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Teatro Opera

The Teatro Opera (Opera Theatre) is a prominent cinema and theatre house in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The Opera Theatre was developed in 1871 by Antonio Petalardo, a local businessman who foresaw a need for popular theatre catering to the city's booming population in subsequent years. The original Beaux-Arts style theatre was opened in 1872 on what today is Corrientes Avenue, then a narrow street along Buenos Aires' northern outskirts, and premiered with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore. Specializing in musicals, the theatre was an early success and enjoyed a reputation of being among the most technically advanced at the time, becoming the first in Latin America to possess in-house generators, for instance.

The massive widening of Corrientes Street led to the theatre's demolition in 1935, however, following which the Petalardo family sold the establishment to Clemente Lococo, who had the Opera Theatre rebuilt. Designed by Belgian Argentine architect Albert Bourdon and reinaugurated in 1936, the new Opera Theatre was an Art Deco, multi-purpose house, hosting both stage performances and film with a capacity for 2,500 spectators. The Corrientes Avenue landmark also hosted regular Tango concerts led by stars including Hugo del Carril and Edmundo Rivero, as well as international performances such as the Folies Bergere's and Ella Fitzgerald's and Louis Armstrong's during their days as a touring duo in the 1950s. The theatre also hosted bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla's last, live performance in Argentina, in June 1989.

Economic instability and changing public tastes led to the theatre's decline during the 1990s and in 1996, its proprietors considered selling the building to parking structure developers.Clarin.18 March 1996. Public outcry and activism on the part of National Theatre Director Lito Cruz led to the passage of a National Theatre Law providing subsidies to struggling performance houses, as well as protecting them from demolition. The Opera Theatre was remodeled in 1998 and currently seats 1,852 spectators.


Mimi Bohm, Buenos Aires Art Deco y Racionalismo, Ediciones Xavier Verstraeten, Buenos Aires, 2008.

International Performances

Edith Piaf

Josephine Baker

Ava Gardner

Ella Fitzgerald

Louis Armstrong

Postcards (c. 1910) depicting the original Opera Theatre Le Petit Herge: Cine Teatro Opera

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