Buenos Aires Theaters & Teatro Colón

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Like every big city, Buenos Aires has a thriving theater scene. The ‘Broadway’ of Buenos Aires is the section of Avenida Corrientes that’s between Avenida 9 de Julio and Callao. Most of the city’s 40-odd theaters are located here. They show musicals, plays, opera and music revues, just like similar areas in other parts of the world. The vast majority of the productions are, of course, in Spanish.

Here are the most important theaters in Buenos Aires:

Teatro Nacional Cervantes (Córdoba 1155)

The Teatro Nacional Cervantes the national stage and comedy theatre of Argentina. It has three performance halls, the largest of which seats 860.

El Teatro Avenida (Avenida de Mayo 1221)

This is the theater that took over the staging of opera in Buenos Aires when Teatro Colón closed in 2006 (see below). It has recently productions of major hits such as Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

Teatro General San Martín (Avenida Corrientes 1530)

Another of the main theaters in Argentina, the San Martín theater is located in a retro 70s-style building (retro or just old? You be the judge) and has a great dance program.

Some tickets for these theaters can be bought online, but a surer bet is just visiting the box office at the theater, and that’s what most people do.

Teatro Colón

The theaters listed above are good, but in a class all of its own is Teatro Colón (Cerrito 618). It’s the grand opera house of Buenos Aires and one of the best four or five opera houses in the entire world. It’s been closed for refurbishment since 2006 but it will reopen this year (2010), in May.

If you’re thinking about trying to get tickets for a Teatro Colón show when it reopens, keep in mind that it’s going to be expensive! Here are the options:

1. Season subscriptions. Most seats for most shows at Teatro Colón go to season subscribers (note that while there are normally 10-12 shows in a season the 2010 season will be just 6 shows). There are three subscription levels: Gran Abono; Nocturno, and Vespertino. The price also differs according to which zone the seats are located in.

2. Individual tickets. Teatro Colón usually makes some individual tickets available for subscription performances, but they’re hard to get, particularly if the opera is popular and/or there are well-known singers performing. Making things even harder is that Teatro Colón doesn’t do on-line or telephone sales, meaning that you need to queue up on the first day of availability at least an hour before the ticket office opens.

3. Extraordinarias. In addition to the subscription performances there are usually one or two non-subscription performances of each opera. They’re called extraordinarias. These performances often feature a ‘second’ cast, meaning that you won’t get the very best singers, but if you just want a seat to a Teatro Colón performance then they’re fine. They’re normally sold a week or so before the performance.

A full list of prices for all of the above is available here.

It’ll be fantastic to see the Teatro Colón restored to its former glory after such a long break and many Buenos Aires residents, both local and expat, can’t wait. Get your tickets while they’re hot!