Buenos Aires has a reputation as a city with intense theatre activity. Plays are constantly being presented throughout the city's three circuits: official, commercial and independent. The official circuit which includes the General San Martín Theatre, Colón Theatre and Nacional Cervantes Theatre, is of most interest to visitors. Classic plays and innovating versions of the universal theatre and lyric are constantly presented there.
When the Teatro Colón first opened in 1857, it was across from the Plaza de Mayo, in the building which would eventually become the Banco de la Nación Argentina. Thirty-one years later, the theatre closed but a new Teatro Colón, was built. This opened in 1908 at Libertad 621. It is a spectacular building which is currently being extensively renovated.
Inside the theatre are many different rooms, including the Bust Room, the White Room, and the Golden Hall. The Main Theatre, or "La Sala" is shaped like a horse-shoe and many claim that it is one of the most perfect acoustic spaces in the world. Above it all is an illuminated dome, painted by famous Argentine painter Raul Soldi, which depicts various facets of the theatrical life. As a venue, the Teatro Colón is almost a show unto itself.
Normally, the theatre has a yearly program consisting of ballet, opera, and the theatre’s own philharmonic orchestra. However, the theatre was closed for renovation when we were there. Tel: 4382-5414.
The General San Martín Theatre at Av Corrientes 1550 is one of the most important theatres in the city. It was inaugurated in 1960, the sesquicentennial of the Revolución de Mayo. A million people pass through it every year. This enormous amount of space is divided into numerous rooms and performances spaces, each with a unique history and atmosphere. There are a wide range of performances held in this theatre, from ballet to plays. Right now, the theatre is also home to many of the performances normally held in the closed Teatro Colón. Tel: 4371-0111.
National Cervantes Theatre (Tel: 4815 8812). At Libertad 815, this attractive theatre was built in 1921 with much Spanish influence. The intricate exterior is in a richly adorned Spanish style common in the early 16th-century. Inside, the 1700-seat auditorium features Spanish materials, many of which are from a reconstruction after a 1961 fire. There is a small museum here and the National Theatre Study Institute is also based here.