Teatro Amazonas, Manaus
The Teatro Amazonas is perhaps the most surreal opera house in the world, a fever dream of 19th-Century rubber barons who wanted to bring the Belle Epoque to the Amazon.
The materials, including Carrara marble, were all imported from Europe, as was the architect, Celestial Sacardim, who concocted a mixture of Baroque, Renaissance and Neoclassical styles, topped off by a large dome covered in mosaics that looks like it was plucked from a 16th-Century Persian mosque.
The theatre was inaugurated in 1897 with a production of La Giocondo starring Enrico Caruso. In fact, it was said that the rubber barons had constructed the theatre just to lure Europe’s most famous tenor to the jungle. The story of the opera house inspired Werner Herzog’s 1982 film Fitzcarraldo. By then, the Teatro Amazonas had long since closed, but the film spurred a revival of interest in the theatre, and, after a series of false starts, it returned to regular programming in 1997. Today it houses the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra, and hosts the annual Amazonas Opera Festival.
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