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Theatro Municipal

Watch a concert or a ballet at this century-old opera house, which glitters just as it did in the early 1900s, thanks to a painstaking 2008 renovation.

Experience the grandeur of early 20th-century Rio at the Theatro Municipal, the city’s main opera house. A neoclassical palace of marble columns, green onyx staircases and golden bronze statues, the opera house is as much of a spectacle as the regular opera, ballet and orchestral performances that take place here. See a show or take a guided tour of the newly refurbished interior.

The Theatro Municipal opened in 1909. Since then, it has featured thousands of performances, including appearances by Igor Stravinsky, Anna Pavlova and the world-famous Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. It has also undergone several renovations, the latest in 2008 costing more than $64 million.

Before you enter, examine the marble façade, which was modeled after the Paris Opera. Neoclassical columns line the front and copper cupolas crown the roof of the building. Notice the huge golden bronze eagle, which stands at the center of the building as its highest point. Visit the theater at night to see the stained-glass windows on the front of the theater colorfully illuminated.

Head inside and explore the entrance hall. The main staircase consists of green onyx and the fixtures include pieces of marble and gold. Notice the two bronze statues as you walk in. These were designed by French sculptor Raoul Verlet. The statue to the left represents poetry, while the one on the right represents dance. Peek into the performance hall to see a century-old frieze towering above the red velvet seats.

For the ultimate in Theatro Municipal experiences, book seats to a ballet, opera or orchestral performance. Both the Petrobras Symphony Orchestra and the Brasileira Symphony Orchestra call the theater home, so be sure to catch one of their regular performances. Otherwise, visit during the day from Tuesday through Saturday and join a guided tour of the theater for a small fee. If you’re looking for an atmospheric dining experience, head down into the theater’s basement to the small restaurant fitted with tile mosaics in a Babylonian style.

Theatro Municipal stands on the north end of Cinelândia, the main square of downtown Rio. The metro stops in the middle of the square.


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