El Teatro Baralt is an important Venezuelan cultural institution dating from the first half of the 19th century, and headquartered in downtown Maracaibo, at the north-western corner of Plaza Bolivar, at the intersection of the streets Urdaneta and Venezuela. Its famous home, today's Baralt Theater (Teatro Baralt) has undergone a long history of constructions.
Construction of the theater started in 1839 on the property donated by wealthy landowner, don Miguel Antonio Baralt, son of don Ignacio Baralt y Torres - founder of that lineage in Venezuela - and father in turn of one of the glories of Venezuela's literary world: the famed author Rafael María Baralt. With subsequent additional help from the "Society of Industralists", under the presidency of José Montaña Arrieta, a decree was emitted by that society on December 5 of 1845, committing the amount of 3,000 pesos for the construction of a more permanent structure within the property of don Miguel. This first structure, operating between the 1840s and 1870s, was known as Baralt's Theater (or Teatro de Baralt), following a custom dating from decades before, when don Miguel used to lend his parcel of land between Urdaneta and Venezuela for impromptu theatrical performances using a temporarily built stage. As such, this location had been associated with theatrical performances since the early parts of the 19th century and the informal denomination, "el Teatro de Baralt" (after don Miguel), stuck until that time when his donation of land to the city allowed for the construction of an even grander venue.
This occurred on July 28 of 1877, when general Rafael Parra, then President of the State of Zulia (the equivalent of today's modern title of Governor), ordered the demolition of the old theater and construction of the new, proceeding to place the first stone of the new complex on October 7 of the same year. The new building, in neo-classical style, was finished on time for a spectacular inauguration made to coincide with the centennial of Simon Bolivar's birth in 1883, being rechristened Teatro Baralt in honor of don Miguel's son... that famous man of letters mentioned above. A Spartan building, built in the same spirit of the classical productions it had the good fortune to host, it remained a favorite of Maracaibo's elite until its demolition in 1928 at the orders of Vicente Pérez Soto, then Governor of the State, to be replaced by a design by the architect León Jerónimo Hoet - opening its doors on December 19, 1932.
On November 1981, Baralt Theater joined the list of Venezuela's National Monuments; often a first step in the arduous and very selective process of becoming a World Heritage Site. After an extensive and expert restoration, the theater reopened its doors in 1998 regaling the urban landscape with yet another architectural jewel, one which remains a treasured Venezuelan institution to this day.
Renacer de sueños – La historia del Teatro Baralt. Type: Documentary; sponsored by URBE, Universidad Rafael Belloso Chacín. Alejandro Arteaga Jurado, dir. Consultants: Zaida Gotera de Prado, presidenta Fundacion Teatro Baralt; Mgs. Nereida Petit, arquitecta historiadora; Aleksie Garcia, Coordinator of Centro Rafael Urdaneta. Additional Sponsors, Fototeca Arturo Lares Baralt, photography; Fundacion Teatro Baralt, et al.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Baralt Theater.|
- Baralt Theatre official site
- Three-part documentary of the history of Baralt Theater - search: Renacer de sueños