The Theatro Municipal (Municipal Theatre) of Rio de Janeiro is located in Cinelândia (Praça Marechal Floriano) in the city center of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Built in the beginning of the twentieth century, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful and important theatres in the country.
The building is designed in an eclectic style, inspired by the Paris Opéra of Charles Garnier. The outside walls are inscribed with the names of classic Eurocentric & Brazilian artists. It is located near the National Library and the National Fine Arts Museum, overlooking the spacious Cinelândia Square.
In the second half of nineteenth century, theatrical activity was very intense in Rio de Janeiro, then capital of the country. Still, its two theaters, the Lyric and St. Peter, were criticized for their facilities, either by the public or by the companies that worked in them.
After the Proclamation of the Republic (1889), in 1894 playwright Arthur Azevedo launched a campaign for the building of a new theater to host a local company, to be created along the lines of the Comédie Française. However, in those hectic days, the campaign resulted in only one Municipal Law, which ordered the construction of the Municipal Theater. This law was not enforced, despite the existence of a levy to finance the work. Thus, that the new tax revenue was never used for the construction of the theater.
The theater was closed on October 19, 1975 for restoration works and modernization of its facilities and reopened on March 15, 1978. That same year the Central Technical Production, responsible for all of the shows running in the house, was created. In 1996, the construction of an annex building began to relieve the building due to the intense practicing and other activities throughout the year. With the inauguration of the annex, choir, orchestra and ballet crews gained new rehearsal rooms and greater space for artistic practices and rehearsal.
Today, the Theatro Municipal mostly shows productions of ballet and classical music. In its early heyday, it featured only foreign opera and symphonic orchestra shows, especially from Italian and French companies. In 1931, the Municipal Symphonic Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro was created and celebrities such as Arturo Toscanini, Sarah Bernhardt, Bidu Sayao, Eliane Coelho, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith and Alexander Brailowsky highlighted the programs of the Theatro. Today, it houses the Petrobras and the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestras.
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