Travel & Places Brazil

São Paulo"s King of Theaters

Updated on June 1, 2014

Opened in 1911 and fully restored in time for its centennial, São Paulo's Municipal Theater (Teatro Municipal) is one of the city's top architectural treasures and cultural attractions.

The theater was designed by Brazilian architect Ramos de Azevedo and Italian architects Claudio Rossi and Domiziano Rossi, inspired by the Paris Opera. Baroque references are plentiful in the building, which houses a wealth of wall and ceiling frescoes, Neoclassical columns, busts, chandeliers and statues such as Diana the Huntress (1927) by Victor Brecheret, one of the greatest sculptors in Brazil history.

São Paulo-born Ramos de Azevedo (1851-1928), one of the greatest architects in Brazil history, also designed the Central Market, Pinacoteca do Estado and Casa das Rosas, originally his daughter's and son-in-law's residence, among other landmarks.

The theater had undergone another major renovation in 1951. The work coordinated by architect Tito Raucht involved the building of new floors in areas occupied by dressing rooms and the creation of balconies.

Paintings by Oscar Pereira da Silva (1867-1939) are among the highlights. The ceiling fresco in the Noble Room depicts a street comedy scene in Ancient Greece.

The stained glass panels are another attraction in their own right. Created by Conrado Sorgenicht Filho (1869-1935), who also designed the stained glass panels at the Central Market, they are made up of 200,000 pieces of glass in 27 works. Over 14,000 pieces were recovered during the restoration process which lasted nearly three years and culminated with the reopening of the theater in June 2011.

The stage has been upgraded with an electronic system which makes it more adequate for great productions. The crystal chandelier in the central dome shines over the audience with seats newly upholstered in red, the oldest color identified as historically accurate.

Outside the theater, the fountain inspired in the Trevi Fountain in Rome was a gift from the Italian community in São Paulo in commemoration of the 1922 centennial of the Independence of Brazil. The work created by Italian architect Luiz Brizzolara includes a statue of Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes (1836-1896), the theater's patron.

Highlights of Municipal Theater History

The theater was inaugurated on Sep.12, 1911 with a performance of Hamlet, a five-act opera by French composer Ambroise Thomas, with Italian baritone Titta Ruffo (1877-1953), known as Voce del Leone ("Voice of the Lion") in the title role.

Teatro Municipal hosted the Modern Art Week (Feb.11-18, 1922), a pivotal event in Brazil's cultural history which launched the Modernist movement. Maria Callas, Arturo Toscanini, Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Duke Ellington are among the renowned performers featured at Theatro Municipal through its history.

The Café at the Municipal Theater:

Read about the café which returned one of the beautiful rooms in the Municipal Theater to its original function.

Municipal Theater Museum:

Objects, documents, recordings and journalistic material related to the theater are preserved in its museum, opened in 1983 and located under Viaduto do Chá.

Besides housing a permanent collection, the museum hosts temporary exhibits. Photos and documents are available for research.

Address: Baixos do Viaduto do Chá - Centro
Phone: 55-11-3241-3815
Museum hours are Mon-Sun from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Theatro Municipal:

Praça Ramos de Azevedo
São Paulo- SP
55-21-3397-0300/ Box Office: 55-21-3397-0327

View the current performance schedule on the official Theatro Municipal website under "Programação Completa".

June 1, 2014 update: The square in front of the theater has been one of the main places for street demonstrations in São Paulo. As of this update, the latest was a protest led by Não Vai Ter Copa ('There won't be a World Cup') yesterday, May 31. 

Sources used for historical facts: Official Teatro Municipal Website, São Paulo 450 Anos.

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