Teatro Colón in Bogotá reopens tomorrow night after a six-year restoration.
Ten dancers from the Royal Ballet and the English National Ballet will help to get the celebrations off to a good start. Among them is the ‘Colombian Billy Elliot', Fernando Montaño, a Soloist with the Royal Ballet and the first Colombian to dance with the company. Another Colombian, Joan Sebastian Zamora, who studied at the Royal Ballet School and now dances with ENB, will also part of the line-up, as will the Royal Ballet Principal Roberta Marquez and ENB Principals Elena Glurdjidze and Arionel Vargas. They are joined by the Royal Ballet's Valentino Zucchetti, Claire Calvert, Yasmine Naghdi and Mayara Magri and the ENB's Katja Khaniukova.
Tonight's dress rehearsal will be for underprivileged children and the theatre's official reopening will be on 25, 26 and 27 July. Montaño and the dancers have also brought boxes of pointe shoes to donate to the theatre's ballet school.
The Teatro Colón is the national theatre of Colombia built by the Italian architect Pietro Cantini. It's official name is Teatro de Cristóbal Colón (The Christopher Columbus Theatre), and it opened in 1892 to commemorate the fourth centenary of the discovery of America.
Now the 19th Century Colombian beauty has been hauled into the 21st Century with a new stage and modern technology. The magnificent ceiling has been cleaned, the plasterwork and gilt repaired, and the seating renewed. One of the biggest jobs was restoring glorious Telón de Boca, the front cloth painted by the Florentine artist Anibal Gatti, which measures 8.75 metres high by 11.35 wide. Latest sound and lighting equipment was donated by the Japanese government and the Italian restorer Ruggero Martines, sponsored by the Italian government, oversaw the modernization process.
José Manuel Álvarez, director of the theatre, said,
We thought it would be a minor restoration, but soon realized that something major was necessary. The stage was too small, and moving scenery was complex. Now we are ready to host every genre of the performing arts, and the theatre will return to be a producing theatre, not just a space to rent out.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.
Actually, Graham, the oldest opera house in South America – in the entire Western Hemisphere, in fact – is the Teatro Solís in Montevideo, Uruguay. It opened in 1856, about six months before the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, the oldest opera house in the United States.
Thank you! And very beautiful it looks too. I’ll correct above…
The Colón Theatre in Bogotá is a nice little opera theater. I am glad it has been restored, and that it has hosted de Royal Ballet, but I wouldn’t qualify it as “glorious”. Let us use adjectives properly.
Thanks for commenting. The ‘glorious’ came from one of the dancers who participated in the opening gala. I have never seen the theatre but, from the photos, it certainly looks glorious to me… I suppose it depends on taste and what you’re used to. Ciao from Milan!