Theatro Municipal de São Paulo

Sao Paulo, Brazil | C.1911

Photo Credit: Yuri Seródio

Revolutionary examples of arts and architecture coalesce in the form of Brazil’s Theatro Municipal de São Paulo. Completed in 1911, the theater is considered a city landmark for its historical importance and architectural influence. Over the decades, the Theatro has been home to both art exhibitions, and musical and theatrical performances.

At the turn of the 20th century, the city of São Paulo was a bustling destination for the Brazilian bourgeoisie. Many enjoyed frequenting the theaters in the city, but no venue matched the size and opulence that the wealthy desired and thus the aristocracy pushed to build a new theater.

The Morro do Cha, or Tea Hill, was selected as the site for the new theater. Designed by Brazilian engineer Ramos de Azevedo and Italian architects Claudio and Domiziano Rossi, the theater design was inspired by the Palais Garnier in Paris and many of its building materials were imported from Europe. Construction began in 1903 and was completed eight years later.

Upon its completion, the Theatro earned international renown. During its early years, it presented 88 operas of Italian, French, Brazilian, and German origins spanning 270 performances. Yet, it’s most significant event was not in fact an opera, but the Week of Modern Art, or Semana de 22, a seven-day art exhibit that occurred in 1922.

Semana de 22 displayed works of Brazilian Modernismo, an art movement that defied patterns of European-influenced art, music, and drama, and featured artists that would become celebrated names in the Brazilian Modernist Movement. Since then, the Theatro has continued to showcase classic and contemporary arts, and is one of the most celebrated cultural venues in South America.

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