São João National Theatre
The history of the theatre begins in 1794, when the main authority of Porto, Francisco de Almada e Mendonça, encharged Italian architect Vicente Mazzoneschi with the project for an opera house. The original theatre was built between 1796 and 1798 and was named São João (St John) in honour of Prince-regent João, later crowned king as John VI of Portugal. The interior of the theatre was similar to São Carlos Theatre of Lisbon, built a little earlier.
The first São João Theatre was destroyed by a fire in 1908. A rebuilding project started in 1911 under the direction of Porto architect José Marques da Silva. The inner concert hall is horseshoe-shaped and has a ceiling painted by artists José de Brito and Acácio Lino, while the entrance hall is decorated with sculptural work by Henrique Araújo Moreira, Diogo de Macedo and José Fernandes de Sousa Caldas. On the main façade, of sober design, there are four reliefs representing four feelings: Kindness, Pain, Hatred and Love, created by Diogo de Macedo and Sousa Caldas.
The new theatre was finished in 1918 but was reinaugurated only in 1920, with Verdi's Aida. Initially, the theatre was dedicated to opera and theatre, but after 1932 it was turned into a cinema. Only in 1992, when it was bought by the Portuguese government, was the theatre completely restored to its former glory and renamed São João National Theatre. It is nowadays the main theatre venue in the city and one of the most important in the country.