Sorry, that smacks of first class discrimination to me for a country that should know better.
I took the mask pictures, but here is Carol’s report on what she saw and learned:
The original opera theatre was a much smaller structure, constructed beside the Casa Rosada (see Hans’ Blog #3 “A Crappy Day”) near Plaza de Mayo and opened in 1837. Its smaller size was no impediment to obtaining seats as only the Upper Class of the population attended operatic performances.
Then in the late 1800s, after a large influx of mainly Italian immigrants who loved their opera, a new, expanded venue was required. An Italian architect was hired but he died prematurely at the age of 44 before construction could commence. A few years later, his successor was murdered, also at the age of 44. Then the chief financial backer of the project died. Many thought that these deaths were omens of disaster for the project and work on the building halted for some time.
A German architect (much older than 44 years) was eventually hired, so work recommenced and the project was finally completed after 20 years in 1908, under the direction of a fourth architect – a Belgian. The grand opening performance was Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida.
In 2010, the Teatro reopened after five years of renovation. Since then, the group who scientifically measures the acoustics in all the great opera houses of the world has claimed that those of the Teatro Colón are unsurpassed. Pavarotti once complained that this Opera House had one great flaw – the acoustics were so good that every mistake could be heard.
We learned from our guide that many things contribute to the outstanding sound quality.
First, the oval shape of the theatre directs the sound to circulate around the room. Secondly, the sound absorbing qualities of the furnishings and the walls of the first three levels combined with the echo-inducing qualities of the remaining four levels produce a naturally amplified sound with no echo.
Applause, PLEASE !
The Theatre has almost 2500 seats with standing room for an additional 1000. Many visitors for the standing area bring small chairs and take a spot there for an admission of only 40 peso per performance. As well, there are small rooms behind iron grille work on the main floor which would accommodate widows. At one time, widows could not be seen in public for several years after the death of their spouse so these private rooms, each with a private entrance to the outside, allowed the widows to experience the opera secretly. Eva Perón abolished this custom along with many other repressive practices against women.
The cupola in the main theatre is 28 meters above the floor and the huge chandelier is surrounded by a platform (see the gold ring around the chandelier).
Several halls are used as Intermission Halls –
I discovered that the funds raised from the tours provide scholarships for young men and women studying music. The Teatro Colón conducts an opera school, classes in symphonic music, opera art work and staging.
It was an interesting, informative tour led by a delightful, young woman with impeccable English.