La Plaza

News from Latin America and the Caribbean

« Previous Post | La Plaza Home | Next Post »

Argentina's Teatro Colon: No birthday bash

March 9, 2008 | 10:42 am

Questions are mounting about the future of one of South America's most venerable cultural landmarks, Teatro Colon, an almost century-old monument in downtown Buenos Aires and a reflection to the capital's European heritage. The stately opera house, shuttered in 2006 for extensive renovations, was scheduled to reopen this year for its 100th anniversary. A performance of Verdi's "Aida," the same classic that marked the Colon's 1908 debut, was slated to mark the big date.Colon_oficial_2

With the theater badly deteriorated, however, many were skeptical about the projected second inaugural date -- especially in a nation where cost overruns and huge delays routinely mar big public works projects. Alas, the skeptics were right. Last month, authorities revealed that work was way behind schedule; the Colon will remain closed until 2010.

Meantime, the city government, which runs the facility, is talking about a new management structure, supposedly less bureaucratic, reports the daily Clarin. But some wonder if the new plan could be a thinly disguised blueprint for layoffs and cuts at an artistic stalwart with a history of nasty labor strife. As the work and debate continue, the great house, minus the crowds, the buzz, the champagne and the signature acts, remains a forlorn site in the heart of the Argentine capital.

-- Patrick J. McDonnell and Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires.

Photo: Courtesy of Teatro Colon.