The Discovery of latex (1763) – a sap produced by the rubber tree, a plant originally from Amazon – and, mainly, the process of vulcanization (1839) led to the fact that rubber would become one of the mostly sought after raw materials in the world. In Brazil, the cities of Belém and Manaus have become cultural centers for having had their development tightly linked to the production and trading of rubber (1879-1912). Those cities would hold a number of people, from various regions of Brazil and from abroad, who would come over to work and invest in the trade of collecting latex.
The construction of a theater in the city of Manaus was a demand in that region, which would then face an unprecedented economic and cultural growth starting from the worldwide interest in the sap from the rubber trees of the Amazonian forest. It was an elite theater for that well-to-do society then.
It was in this period, known as the rubber cycle that the representative called A. J. Fernandes Júnior presented to the Amazon’s Provincial Assembly, the architectural Project made by the Portuguese Cabinet of Engineering and Architecture of Lisbon, to build up the Amazon Theater – Teatro Amazonas. The contract works, coordinated by the Italian architect Celestial Sacardim, began in 1884; were stepped up in the years of 1890-1891; they were interrupted and started again in 1893 and, finally, the Theater was inaugurated in December, 31st, 1896.
For the undertaking of the construction, not only professionals like architects, builders, painters and sculptor were brought over, but also, several materials: marble from Carrara, chandeliers from Murano, iron pieces worked on from England and France. The decorator Crispim do Amaral was put in charge of the interior decorations, except for the Noble Salon – Salão Nobre -, which was attributed to the work of the Italian artist Domenico de Aangelis. In this Salon, which has baroque features, the wooden floor of Brazilian and European woods demands that great care be taken in order to perpetuate its beauty. In it, the barons of rubber would stay as in the theatrical representation breaks and they would use it to perform their balls (social dancing). The ceiling’s painting, a work of art by Domenico, is called The Glorification of the Fine Arts in Amazon - A Glorificação das Bellas Artes na Amazônia.
The visitor feels astonished by the luxury of its decoration: a Golden chandelier with crystals imported from Venice; upholstered curtains; armchairs; a ceiling painted in France, representing the Eiffel Tower as looked up from below, and a curtain painted by Crispim do Amaral, which fashions reference to the joint of Waters of rivers Negro and Solimões. “The ornaments above the floor level columns are remarkable, with masks in honor of dramatists and famous classic composers, such as Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Molière, Rossini, Mozart, Verdi and others. Under the arched ceiling are four canvases fixed, painted in Paris by Casa Carpezot – the most traditional one at the time -, in which allegories to music, dance and tragedy are portrayed and there is a tribute to the great Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes”.
In the beginning of the XX century, the production of rubber in Brazil went into a crisis. Countries like Malaysia, Ceylon (currently Sri Lanka) and Tropical Africa went on to manufacture latex with greater efficiency, with lower costs and for this reason, they took control over worldwide trade. The Amazonian region’s stagnation of the economy was nearly immediate and left deep marks: a fall in the states revenues, unemployment, rural exodus, two-story houses and mansions wholly abandoned and, mainly, total lack of expectations concerning the future for the ones who insisted on remaining in the region.
The Amazon Theater - Teatro Amazonas – was not left unscathed. In 1924, it closed down. Since then, it seldom opened the doors apart from either small spectacles or civic events.
In 1966, it was the first monument to be registered with special acknowledgement and with national valuation in Manaus, by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (Iphan). It underwent remodeling in 1929, 1962, 1974, 1985, 1990 and in 2001, when it received mortar restoration for the facades and painting. In 1990, it was re-inaugurated.
Starting from the first edition of the Opera Amazon Festival (1997) and other editions which followed, the Amazon Theater re-gained momentum and its prominence.
BATTAGGION, Victor. A ópera de Manaus. História Viva, São Paulo, ano 9, n. 103, p. 76-77, 2012.
IPHAN. Arquivo Noronha Santos. Teatro Amazonas. Available at: <http://www.iphan.gov.br/ans/inicial.htm>. Accessed: 24 abr. 2012.
TEATRO Amazonas. Available at: <http://opiniaoenoticia.com.br/cultura/teatro-amazonas/>. Accessed: 12 abr. 2012.
TEATRO Amazonas. Available at: <http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teatro_Amazonas>. Accessed: 11 abr. 2012.
TEATRO Amazonas [Fotografia neste texto]. Available at: <http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_TrB06CGAm5M/SldqcBm8S5I/AAAAAAAAJoY/fSwIcbZI1jY/s1600-h/Manaus+Teatro+Amazonas+by+Viagens+%26+Imagens.jpg>. Accessed: 24 abr. 2012.
VALLADARES, Clarival do Prado. Restauração e recuperação do Teatro Amazonas. Manaus: Governo do Estado, 1974.
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Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Teatro Amazonas, Manaus, AM. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple. 6 ago. 2009.