Once considered one of the world’s top five opera houses, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colon has played host to musical legends like Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Luciano Pavarotti and Arturo Toscanini. But when the curtain fell on Swan Lake in October 2006, many wondered if the aging and badly neglected theatre would ever regain its former glory.
Shortly thereafter, the City embarked on an ambitious $100 million renovation project to restore something the Colon once boasted: perfect acoustics. A botched mid-80’s mini-renovation changed that and performances over the ensuing twenty years were marred by thin sound and noticeable reverberations.
A team of architects, engineers and renovation experts spent the past three years demolishing and then renovating everything from the stage to the balconies to the freight elevators. Unfortunately peeling an onion of that magnitude began to reveal more serious structural problems, so the planned 2008 re-opening (for the 100th anniversary) was postponed until this year’s Bicentennial celebration in Buenos Aires.
Despite doubts and criticism from opposition parties, the Government of the City of Buenos Aires persevered and the Colon is finally ready for her debut on May 24. Actually a dress rehearsal was held last night, according to Clarin, for the hundreds of workers involved with restoring the most important cultural symbol in Argentina.
Shortly after 8:00, the conductor took the stage and the sounds of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony soared through the hall. As for the restoration of the once-perfect acoustics, the conductor’s comment says it all, “We cried like little boys.” (Teatro Colon)