Teatro Municipal of Santiago is the most important and oldest stage in the country and in the whole of Latin America. It first opened in 1857 as part of the republican cultural project of the 19th century.
Its history covers more than 150 years, during which it has consolidated a cultural leadership with the work of its stable bodies and of international presentations of opera, ballet, theater, symphonic and chamber concerts.
Along with the annual program are permanent activities aimed at bringing culture closer to people, such as small format performances targeting children and young people, or the Midday Cycles. Guided tours are also available, prior registration on the website. It was declared a Historic Monument in 1974.
Teatro Municipal was designed by the architect Claudio Francisco Brunet des Baines, inspired on the French neo-classical style. Works commenced in 1853, on the land formerly taken up by the Real Universidad de San Felipe, under the supervision and with the collaboration of the members of the Santiago municipality. It was officially opened September 17, 1857, with the presentation of Verdi’s opera “Ernani”, interpreted by an Italian opera company.
Activity in the theater was abruptly interrupted on December 8, 1870, following a fire that only left the exterior walls and structural elements of the building standing. On this occasion, the first martyr of the Santiago Fire Brigade, the volunteer, Germán Tenderini, gave his life to save the building. The street adjacent to the theater has been named after him in his honor.
The new building was first opened on July 16, 1983, with Verdi’s work “The Force of Destiny”. At the close of the 19th century and in the first few years of the 20th century, some highly acclaimed performances were given here. World class lyric performances were contracted and the galleries were filled with the most well-to-do heads of families since no member of high society could miss the performances, especially opera. And even for those unable to allow themselves such a privilege, there was the alternative for subscribers to listen to the entire opera over the telephone, from their homes. The earthquake of 1906 caused further damage.
Reconstruction preserved the hall almost in its entirety, although the main foyer was altered, much in the manner of the Grand Opera in Paris, becoming a monumental two-storey entrance hall, with a white marble imperial staircase. In the thirties and forties, the hall was renovated.
In 1967, the Cultural Corporation of Santiago was established, in order to administer the Theater.
From the second half of the 20th century onward, stable corps were gradually formed, to national and international acclaim. The Ballet of Santiago (1958), the Choir (1982), the Chamber Orchestra (1993) and the Philharmonic Orchestra (1995) have become essential cornerstones of the first-class cultural management implemented the Teatro Municipal today.
The building is in French neo-classical style. The ground floor acts as the Main Hall and the various foyers; the first floor houses some administrative offices, while on the second floor are the costumes workshop, offices, dressing rooms and ballet rehearsal rooms.
The Grand Agustinas Foyer is spacious and richly decorated. It draws in visitors to the various seasons, while serving as a social area for receptions given after the performance. The chandelier in this foyer is a replica of the one in the Main Hall. Sculptures here include two by Nicanor Plaza, titled “Prologue” and “Epilogue”.
On the other hand, La Capilla Room is arranged so that people arriving late can watch the performance on closed-circuit television until they are allowed in during the first intermission.