October 15, 2003

The Manaus Opera House

Deep in the Brazilian Amazon is Manaus, and inside Manaus is the Manaus Opera House:

The Amazon Theater is one of the most important monuments left by the exhilarating rubber boom period. It was preserved as a national partimony in 1965, and will celebrate its centenary in 1996, in perfect condition after a thorough renovation that left it in its original colors and details. The architecture is eclectic and neo-classic with material and artists brought in from Europe. On the outside of the building, the dome is covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colors of the national flag. In the shape of a harp, the central nave can seat 640 in the auditorium and the 3 floors with box seats. Toward the back, the stage curtain projects the painting "Meeting of the Waters"; originally done in Paris by Crispim do Amaral. This curtain rises vertically so as not to damage the painting. On the ceiling are painted scenes depicting music, dance, drama, and a homage to Carlos Gomes. The central gold chandelier descends to the level of the seats for cleaning purposes and changing light bulbs. Above this chandelier, in the middle of the roof, there is a painting imitating the view of someone standing beneath the Eiffel Tower. The Noble Room was decorated by Domenico de Angelis and contains paintings suchs the one entitled 'Guarani". The floor of this room is made of wood fitted together without the use of nails or glue. The theater also contains a small museum with a rich history. Items on display include original building plans, rare porcelain, and even objects from artists who performed there.

Built as a result of the extraordinary burst of prosperity that was the Brazilian rubber boom. But the rubber boom soon came to an end. The British Empire found that rubber would grow very well in Malaya--after all, the rubber plant's pests and parasites were thousands of miles away. Malayan rubber plantations worked by Chinese immigrants were able to undersell Brazil's rubber producers, and the Brazilian rubber boom collapsed.

Posted by DeLong at October 15, 2003 09:27 PM | TrackBack


We shouldn't laugh at the rubber tycoons. The great new concert hall in Los Angeles designed by Frank Gehry is named after Walt Disney, whose estate provided the core funding:
and http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16689
Not hat Walt was the crude Philistine of Parisian caricature, but there are enjoyable ironies here.

Posted by: James on October 16, 2003 03:51 AM

The Manaus opera house was closed for a few decades, reopening in the early nineties. At that time, with economic depression in the former communist countries and a strong appreciation of the Real, its orchestra hired loads of young Russian and Bulgarian musicians.

Posted by: econBras on October 16, 2003 06:11 AM

About the "Teatro Amazonas", the only thing I can say is that it's very impressive (as you can tell by the picture) and very beautiful. I've been there once some years ago and it was really a nice attraction in the city. But it is not the only one. The city of Manaus is amazing. It has more than 2 million inhabitants living in middle of the jungle. The only ways to get there are by plane or by boat (3 days trip from Belem). Manaus is 2000km north of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and it is definitely a pretty city (differently that I could imagine before going there). Needless to say, that it is a very hot place: more than 100F in the winter (if you name seasons there!!). If you like tourism and/or want to visit Amazon Forest, that's the place to go. At least, I enjoyed very much going there.

Posted by: Jose M. Prado on October 16, 2003 06:54 PM
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