In the mid-19th century, various societies formed by amateur actors appeared in Recife, who scheduled performances and tried to construct decent theatre halls, looking to keep up with the expansion and the transformation of the city and the interest of Pernambuco society in performing arts.
One of the most important was the Sociedade Hamônica Teatral (Hamônica Theatrical Society), later called Philo-Thalia, founded on 23 June 1833 by leading figures in the political and social life of Pernambuco. Its main goal was to build the Teatro Apolo (Apolo Theatre) in the Recife neighbourhood.
Constructed between 1835 and 1840, the theatre was only inaugurated on 19 December 1846, with the staging of the play O Mouro de Ormuz (The Moor from Ormuz) and compliments from the local press about the building’s architecture.
Located at 121 Apolo St, formerly Visconde de Itaparica St, the building, whose construction was suspended for some time, was erected from the designs created by the architect and painter from Rio de Janeiro, Joaquim Lopes de Barros Cabral e Teive, a graduate of that city’s Imperial Academy of Fine Arts.
In a neoclassical style, typical of the 19th century, it had a marble façade from Lisbon and the coat-of-arms of the Sociedade Harmônica Teatral sculptured in lioz limestone.
It had 216 seats and beautiful interior decoration. Unfortunately, it did not have a long life as a theatre. In 1850, the provincial government opened the Santa Isabel Theatre, which was larger and more sophisticated and became the favourite of the Recife public. Gradually, the Apolo theatre declined and closed its doors in 1863.
In 1864 the auction of its last objects was held: “five yellow sofas; eight marble reliefs, two in Brazilian rosewood; thirty Brazilian rosewood chairs, four upholstered; 184 wicker stools, 24 without a back; eight music stands; four large daises; eight leather chairs; three chandeliers; 19 sconces”.
For over a century the building was mutilated and inappropriately used as a warehouse and deposit until it was restored as a theatre and reopened on 12 May 1982.
The reform was carried out by the Recife City Council through the Recife Urbanisation Company (URB) and the Secretary for National Historic and Artistic Patrimony through the Pró-Memória Foundation.
Internally reconstructed, the external lines were maintained and its façade preserved. It has room for 396 spectators, an air-conditioning system, frontal sound and light, boxes, two-level seating and a moveable stage.
Like the Parque Theatre and Santa Isabel Theatre, the management of the Apolo is currently under the responsibility of the Recife City Foundation for Culture.
Recife, 21 October 2004.
(Updated on 8 September 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.
FIGUEIRÔA, Alexandre. O teatro em Pernambuco. [Recife]: Assembléia Legislativa do Estado de Pernambuco, [s.d.] 109p.
MONUMENTOS testemunham parte da história. Cadernos Urbanos Recife, Recife, n.8, jun. 1992.
SOUSA, Alberto. O classicismo arquitetônico no Recife imperial. João Pessoa: UFPb.Editora Universitária; Salvador: Fundação João Fernandes da Cunha, 2000. p.41-43.
O VELHO Apolo volta à cena. Confidencial Econômico Nordeste, Recife, v.13, n. 5, p.35, maio 1982.
how to quote this text
Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Apolo Theatre, Recife, PE. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/en/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.