The heart of the Amazon Rainforest surely isn’t the first location you think of when imaging magnificent opera houses.
There is, however, a bustling city in Brazil located here that is home to an opera house that can hold a candle to the ones located in any other major city in the world.
Below, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about the Amazon Theatre, a magnificent venue with a remarkable story to tell.
1. It’s located in the heart of the capital city of the Amazonas State
The Amazon Theatre is the name of the main opera house in Manaus, a major city in the northwestern part of Brazil.
This bustling city is situated right in the middle of the Amazin Rainforest, making it one of the country’s most remarkable cities.
It was established on the banks of the Amazon River after the Spanish arrived in the late 15th century and has grown to the largest city in the Brazilian state of Amazonas.
Its metropolitan area is home to over 2.6 million people, the 7th-largest in the country. It’s the capital city of the state and has been an important trade center for multiple centuries.
The Amazon Theatre is located in the heart of the city, not too far from the banks of the Amazon. It’s definitely one of the most stunning buildings in the city.
2. It was constructed during a thriving time in the late 19th century
The idea to build an opera house in this location came about in the early 1880s. This was a period in history when Manaus was the center of the rubber industry in Brazil.
The so-called “rubber boom” made a lot of people in the city extremely wealthy, and the population of the city exploded because of it in the late 19th century.
Funding for the building was provided in 1882 and the construction of what was to become a “Jewel” in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest started shortly after in 1884.
3. It took over 12 years before the Renaissance building was inaugurated
The first thing that the committee in charge of the project did was to organize an architectural competition. This was a common practice at the time and was surely inspired by similar competitions held in Europe.
An architectural firm from Lisbon, Portugal, named the “Gabinete Português de Engenharia e Arquitectura” won the competition.
They produced a design inspired by the Renaissance buildings that were constructed all across Europe several centuries earlier.
Neo-Renaissance architecture became popular in the second half of the 19th century and was used for many amazing structures, including, for example, Schwerin Castle, the Texas State Capitol Building, and the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.
Although construction had started in 1884, the opera house didn’t open its doors for the first time until December 31, 1896, over 12 years after the first stone was laid.
4. One of the most impressive features of the building is its incredible dome
The relatively sober and harmonious design of the building has one feature that really sticks out, the marvelous dome that tops the opera house.
This incredible dome is decorated with over 36,000 ceramic tiles that feature the colors of the Brazilian flag. It’s definitely an amazing sight to behold, especially in the evening.
This amazing landmark in the heart of the city stands 92 meters (302 feet) above the banks of the nearby Amazon River, a height that makes it stand out.
5. The interior of the theater is just as impressive as the dome on top of it
The main auditorium is fairly small as it only has a capacity of 701 seats. The ground floor offers 266 seats and the rest are divided among the 3 upper levels of the theater.
Regardless of the fact that this is a relatively small venue, its interior decorations in the 18th-century Louis XV style are just as amazing as the dome above.
The lavish interior is decorated with sculptures and columns made of Carrara marble and it features 198 chandeliers. Botht the marble and the chandeliers were imported from Italy.
The Amazon Theatre is the permanent home of the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra and is often used for a wide variety of performances and concerts.
More interesting facts about the Amazon Theatre
6. The opera house has a fairly small auditorium but the building is quite big. It has dimensions of 68,7 x 124,5 meters (225 x 408 feet).
7. Today, the opera house is located in the heart of the urban jungle that Manaus has become. This wasn’t the case in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Back then, the theater was just about the only landmark in this part of the city.
8. Another fascinating landmark in the area which is located on the square that faces the entrance of the opera house is the so-called “Monument Abertura dos Portos.”
The sculpture is an allegorical representation of the 4 corners of the world, Asia, America, Africa and Europe, which are presented by ships. It was inaugurated in 1900 to commemorate the opening of the Amazon River ports for foreign trade in 1866. This allowed Manaus to thrive in the following decades.
9. The theater was officially opened on December 31, 1896, but the first performance didn’t happen until January 7, 1897. Theopening performance was the Italian opera, La Gioconda, by Amilcare Ponchielli.
10. The interior decorations imported from Italy weren’t the only imported materials used to build the opera house.
The dome’s roofing tiles were imported from the Alsace region in eastern France and the steel used to support the building was imported from Glasgow, Scotland.