Opera House, Museo do Indio, Manaus
This remarkable place was built in the midst of the Amazon jungle in 1896 at the peak of the rubber boom. It took 15 years to construct.
On entering a unique marble lobby is revealed inlaid with tropical hardwoods, there is a concert hall, and a beautiful mural in the upstairs ballroom.
All materials were imported from Europe, including ironware, structures, fittings, statues, marbles, lamps, mirrors, and crystals. Only the wood used in the floor and chairs was local.
The Curtain is a painted flat canvas and is completely lowered and raised without rolling it up. The ceiling painting is also canvas painted in europe and brought to Manaus and plastered to the ceiling.
We had about 4 hours to kill before our plane left after a week of fishing for peacock bass in the Amazon jungle so we decided to check out the opera house. We took a cab from the tropical hotel which is outside of town on the beach it cost 50real for the ride one way. It was a Saturday and the only way to see the Opera house was to take a tour. The cost was $5 or 10 real and was in various languages. As we were the only english speakers there we had our own guide for the 2 of us, it was very interesting.
Manaus shouldn't exist — whoever heard of a modern city in the middle of a jungle? — but it does and it shouldn't be missed.
The gorgeous opera house, Teatro Amazonas, was finished in 1896, during the rubber boom. All the marble and almost everything else was imported from Europe. One notable exception: the huge hand–painted curtain (original) that represents the 'Meeting of the Waters.'
From the Theatro to the Museu do Indio is about two miles. The museum, run by Salesian nuns, gives a good picture of the cultures of various Amazonian Indian groups. It has a fine gift shop as well.
On the way you'll pass 'rubber baron mansions,' other nice homes dating from the late 19th and early 20th century, and a ghastly favela (slum).
9 May 2005: A New York Times article on a performance of Wagner's Ring cycle here:
UPDATE 2008: My wife did the full Theatro tour and got one good picture (without flash, flash being banned inside the auditorium).
This is probably the main sight in Manaus. It was built during the Belle Époque at a time when fortunes were made in the rubber boom. The idea behind it was to construct a jewel in the heart of the Amazonian forest and to make Manaus one of the great centres of civilization. It opened in December 1896, and was considered to be state of the art. No expense was spared to make it the grandest opera house in the world. Nearly everything was brought from Europe: wrought iron staircases from England, crystal chandeliers from France, classical busts and marble from Italy. The wood is Brazilian, but was sent to Europe to be polished and carved. The building is crowned by a golden cupola inlaid with 36,000 ceramic tiles imported from Europe and painted in the colours of the Brazilian flag. It's a really striking building so I'm not sure why I appear to have taken no photos at all and have to rely on Chris for the ones I've included here! Inside the auditorium are 22 marble columns each topped by Greek masks of comedy and tragedy and inscribed with great names of music and literature. The theatre has 198 chandeliers, including 32 of Murano glass. You can do a tour of the interior but unfortunately we arrived too late (last tour is 4.00 PM)
The first performance was on 7 January 1897 with the Italian opera, La Gioconda, by Amilcare Ponchielli. It dazzled for a few glorious years, but by 1910 Brazil's monopoly in rubber had been destroyed by Asian competition. The city was literally plunged into darkness with no money to import coal for the generators. The rubber barons went back to Europe and for years the theatre sat rotting in the tropical heat. Sporadic attempts to renovate and reopen it spluttered out. The stage was used as a football pitch, the auditorium as storage for petrol.
The theatre has seen a revival in the last decade however. Many of the acts that entertain passengers on the cruise ships that nowadays visit Manaus apparently take time on shore to perform here.
The Opera House is a surpising French-inspired creation built by one of the insanely rich rubber barons many years ago. It is quite fun to dress up and go to the opera while staying in what is pretty much the middle of the jungle. The inside is gorgeous and we got our own box high above the stage. The opera was Cinderella, spoken/sung in Italian, with Portuguese translation projected above it. As someone with just a limited knowledge of both languages, it was quite a mental exercise to keep up! Plus Cinderella's stepmother was played by a huge cross-dressing man!
On the way back from the Alfandega House we ran into this jewel of a hang out place for the common man with speakers turned up to max volume with forro , axe and sertaneja ( = whining country music type...) , girls standing around , even with big pregnant belly and lots of cerveja being drunk.... I believe it was a Sunday and this is the typical pastime and for us gringos ( in Brazil any white guy from the Northern Hemisphere is a gringo , so even I and Ewald as Austrians are gringos...) the ideal place for people watching. We stayed some 10 minutes before I had to leave because of the loud music but if you don't mind and like to drink a beer or two , this would be a nice place where to get to know the habits of ordinary people....
You must see the opera house and also the church near the Opera.
The church just have one tower..the other is somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
In the Portuguese Navigation era the ship with the other tower colapse in the ocean
Very nice, neat area to spend about an hour or two of your day. The Amazon Theatre, also known as the opera house is very authentic, and is quite amazing, unless youre exposed to european opera houses. Just the fact that its in the Amazon is pretty mind boggling. The tour is about 30 minutes long, depending on how fast you walk. There are usually a symphony practicing in there, and the music is also amazing.
Run by the Salesian nuns and contains many artefacts (costumes, pottery, tools, weapons for hunting and war etc.) of the indians of the Upper Rio Negro and Rio Amazonas regions where the nuns have long operated as missionaries. An very interesting collection although one has to read and understand Portuguese to make the most of it. Has a small shop where native handicraft can be bought.
The Amazon Theater was constructed in the rubber boom period (1896). It was thoroughly renovated 1987–1990 and is now in perfect condition. The architecture is neo-classic. When the rich upper class in Manaus decided on building this grand opera house nothing was spared with material and artists brought in from Europe. Indeed Manaus was nicknamed “The Paris of the Jungle” in the days of the local rubber barons and the many immigrants from Europe in search of a fortune in the rubber business. The Manaus elite even sent its laundry to Lisbon with the rubber ships and back again! - The dome is the building´s main outside feature, covered with 36000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colors of the national flag. Inside the main feature is the beautiful auditorium decorated by European and Brazilian artists. The curtain itself is a painting and was made in Paris. The theater also contains a small museum.
They have some old costumes of productions past along with some instruments and other items of the past history of the opera house.
On the second floor of the opera house there is a small museum and a waiting area with a magnificent wood floor. You need to wear special shoes when you walk on the floor.
right in front of the Opera House,the pavement is a fine brazilian craftsmanship....like the pedestrianstrip at Copacabana in Rio
Past Glory, Enrico Caruso sang here 1898...around that anyway, and it was a major feature in the movie ..Fitzgeraldo.. with Klaus Kinski