One of the most imposing and beautiful buildings in Rio de Janeiro, Theatro Municipal, inaugurated on July 14, 1909, is considered the main house of spectacles in Brazil and one of the most important in South America. Its history blends with the Trajectory of the country’s culture. Throughout a little more than a century of existence, Theatro has received the greatest international artists, as well as the main Brazilian names of dance, music and opera.
The idea of a national theater with a state-owned artistic company had existed since the middle of the nineteenth century and had in João Caetano (1808-1863), enthusiast of the Brazilian theater, businessman and actor of great merit, one of his most powerful supporters. The project, however, only began to gain consistency at the end of that century, with the commitment of our illustrious playwright Arthur Azevedo (1855-1908). Azevedo’s relentless struggle was fought on the pages of the newspapers and eventually brought results. Unfortunately, however, he did not live long enough to see his dream come true, dying nine months before the opening date.
Mayor Pereira Passos – whose urban reform begun in 1902 radically changed the aspect of the Center of Rio de Janeiro – resumed the idea and, on October 15, 1903, opened a public competition for the choice of the architectural project. At the end of the registration period, in March 1904, seven proposals were received. The first two places were tied: the Aquilla project, in which the “secret” author was the engineer Francisco de Oliveira Passos, son of the mayor, and the Isadora project of the French architect Albert Guilbert, vice president of the Association of French Architects .
The result of the contest caused a strong controversy in the City Hall, accompanied by the main newspapers of the time, about the real authorship of the Aquila project, suspected to have been elaborated by the architecture section of the City Hall, and the supposed favoritism of Oliveira Passos.
Since its inauguration, the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro has undergone four major renovations: 1934, 1975, 1996 and 2008. The first one increased the capacity of the room to 2,205 seats and, despite the complexity of the work, was carried out in three months , The Theater has 2,252 seats. In 1975, restoration and modernization works were carried out, and in the same year the Technical Production Center was created. In 1996, the construction of the annex building was begun with rooms of tests for the Choir, Symphony Orchestra and Ballet. The refurbishment started in 2008 and completed in 2010 focused on the restoration and modernization of the facilities.