Theatro da Paz
Article available in: PT-BR
Last update: 04/05/2015
The architectural design, commissioned by the government, was by military engineer José Tibúrcio de Magalhães and was inspired by the Scalla Theatre in Milan, Italy. Magalhães, however, could not carry out the project, which was taken over by engineer Antônio Augusto Calandrini de Chermont, who made several changes to the original design, modifying the entire facade and creating lateral openings.
On 3 March 1869, the cornerstone of the Theatro de Nossa Senhora da Paz (Our Lady of Peace Theatre) was laid. The name is a reference to the expected end of the Paraguayan War (1864-1870). Sometime later, it was officially changed to Theatro da Paz.
Construction took place between 1869 and 1874. After several difficulties involving engineers, government and builders and with a final cost well above budgeted levels, the theatre was inaugurated on 15 February 1878.
The opening night was attended by Belém’s high society, while the common people watched the movement and the arrival of the dignitaries from in front of the theatre. The opera presented was Les Deux Orphelines, by A. d’Ennery, with artists from the Vicente Company.
The presence of the theatre in Dom Pedro II Square impacted the surrounding area, improving the value of the region and consolidating it as cultural centre in the city of Belém. The theatre was a place to see and be seen – with many illustrious visitors, the presence of the aristocracy was common, in a parade of jewellery and vanity.
The theatre underwent renovations from 1887 to 1890, with the main purpose of beautifying the building, as local society had demanded, and correcting structural issues. It was during this time that the concert hall was painted by artists Chrispim do Amaral and Domenico de Angelis. The ceiling of the foyer was also painted by Angelis, but this was lost in a roof collapse in the 1930s.
Between 1904 and 1905, the theatre had a new makeover, justified by a crack in the facade. It was redesigned and one of the seven columns was removed to maintain parity with classical design rules. These changes gave an even more imposing and luxurious feature to the building.
At this point, Belém began to suffer from the decline of the Rubber Cycle, and cultural investments were strongly affected. The theatre’s physical installations became increasingly precarious. Nevertheless in the 1930s, Theatro da Paz hosted important presentations, with attractions such as Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and opera singer Bidu Sayão.
In the 1960s, the theatre underwent several renovations, including the fresh painting of the foyer ceiling with an Amazon theme by artist Armando Balloni. In 1963, the theatre was listed by the service of National Historic and Artistic Service (SPHAN). Since then, it has passed through various maintenance and modernization projects.
Today the theatre is the largest in Brazil’s Northern Region and one of the most luxurious in the country. In the lobby are busts of Brazilian writers José de Alencar and Gonçalves Dias made from Carrara marble, and painted walls and ceiling representing the Greek arts. The horseshoe-shaped concert hall seats nine-hundred (originally one thousand, one hundred). The chairs are made of wood and straw, suitable for the region’s climate. The Grand Hall (Foyer) is decorated with mirrors and chandeliers made from French crystal and Carrara marble busts of composers Carlos Gomes and Henrique Gurjão.
In 1996, in an initiative by the Executive Secretariat of Pará Culture, in partnership with the Carlos Gomes Foundation, came the first orchestra in the theatre’s history: the Theatro da Paz Symphony Orchestra (OSTP). The orchestra is currently conducted by Pará Maestro Miguel Campos Neto.
Translated by Peter Leamy, April 2015.
______. Teatro da Paz: histórias invisíveis em Belém do Grão-Pará. Anais do Museu Paulista, São Paulo, N. Sér., v. 18, n. 2, p. 93-121, jul./dez. 2010. Available at:<http://www.scielo.br/pdf/anaismp/v18n2/v18n2a03>. Accessed: 20 maio 2014.
THEATRO da Paz. Available at: <http://www.theatrodapaz.com.br>. Accessed: 20 maio 2014.