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Learn more about Teatro Colon...

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Argentina > My experience at the Colon theater of Buenos Aires
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Now I relaxed and began to look around at the interior of the magnificent hall. It is the match of any opera house in the world, I thought, looking at the tiers of balconies and private boxes rising far above me. I tried to count the levels of seating, and, because the highest ones were so far above me, I could not be certain if there were seven or eight. The grand old chandelier centered in the cavernous upper reaches of the hall was a beautiful sight to remember. I thought about the one that crashed on the stage in Phantom of the Opera. If this one were to fall, no one in the orchestra would leave unscathed, and most wouldn't leave at all. The hall was filling up, and I shifted my weight to settle into the warm comfort of my red velvet upholstered chair. Most of the patrons were well dressed, but, like everywhere else, some showed up in very casual clothes. On the whole, Buenos Aires dresses for evening better than most other places in the western world, but even there you can see blue jeans and sneakers in the opera house. It wasn't a sell-out, but at least two thirds of the great hall was occupied when the curtain went up.

I relaxed to listen to some familiar strains of Tchaikovsky. Throughout the performance I marveled at the colorful costumes, the elaborate scenery, and the dancing of the ballet ensemble of the theater. Sleeping Beauty is a story of kings and queens and princes and princesses and good and bad fairies, so it's easy to imagine the freedom the Teatro's set and scenery designers had as they did their magic. While I'm not really a ballet aficionado, the entire performance was riveting, as the dancers made the fairy tale real for the audience. At breaks, the polite audience filled out for conversation and refreshments. I strolled among them picking up new words in Spanish for my budding second language project. Just before the final curtain, as the princess had been awakened and then married to the handsome prince and it was all winding up, high above the stage, a snowfall of brilliant, minute colored sparkles began to descend to the stage floor sending the stage lights out in tiny flashes to dazzle the audience. Added to the colorful sets and costumes of the finale, I was spellbound until the curtain had descended.

After bows and curtain calls, the audience filled out, and I was one of the first out the door to find a cab waiting. Teatro Colón has entertained Porteños since 1908. Thinking of it, I can imagine Juán Perón and Evita sitting in one of the velvet draped boxes watching the same prince kiss awake the same princess that I did. I can also see the stern faces of the generals of the military junta that held the country in its grip in the late 70's and early 80's while they conducted the "dirty war" on their enemies, many of whom disappeared, never to be seen again. In my mind's eye, I can also see Carlos Gardel, the man who popularized the tango, perched in a box smiling and watching a musical performance. Teatro Colón is a place of grand spectacles, a place of the Argentine people, a place well worth a visit on any trip to Buenos Aires.

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