Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso: a jewel of universal culture
Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso: a jewel of universal culture
Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso: a jewel of universal culture
Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso: a jewel of universal culture
Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso: a jewel of universal culture
Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso: a jewel of universal culture

The Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, worldwide famous and oldest active theatrical institution in Latin America, celebrates this year its 180th anniversary.

Inaugurated in February 18, 1838 and first named Gran Teatro de Tacón, it changed names through time until in 1985 it came to be known as Gran Teatro de la Habana and its main hall: Garcia Lorca. In 2016 it is renamed Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso in appreciation of the prima ballerina assoluta´s contribution to Cuban and universal culture.

Located in Paseo del Prado, next to San Rafael Boulevard and facing Central Park, it is a cultural complex and permanent seat of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the Teatro Lírico Nacional and the Ballet Español de la Habana.  It is also main stage since 1960 of the Festival Internacional de Ballet de la Habana festival, a prestigious gathering of world famous ballet companies and dancers, among them the London Royal Ballet, the New York City Ballet, the Scala de Milán and the Argentinian Teatro Colón ballets.

Former Tacón, the work of architect Antonio Mayo had a predominant eclectic style and for some time was the largest and most luxurious theater of the American Continent; due to its technical features: the third worldwide after the Scala de Milán and the Vienna Opera.

Once the Sociedad de Beneficencia de Naturales de Galicia bought the Tacón and surrounding lots, the theater was demolished and substituted by the present edifice of neo baroque style, the work of Belgian architect Paul Beleu, who used European baroque constructions as models, thus the abundance of stone carvings and sculptures.

Its main facade exhibits four white marble sculptural groups representing Beneficence, Education, Music and Theater, as well as elegant balconies, windows, towers and cornices, all of them the work of Giuseppe Moretti. The theater was reconstructed inside the building, one of the richest Havana architectural exponents, only compared to the Centro Gallego; it was re-inaugurated in 1915 during the opera season with presentations of the best of world lyric art of the times

Abiding by the original concept and patrimonial values and backed by state of the art technology, the building was totally restored between 2013 and 2015, reopening its doors on January 1st, 2016. The reconstruction included facades, coverings, lobbies, orchestra pit, box, plank, dressing rooms, rehearsal halls, recording studios and restrooms; furniture, curtains, acclimatization, acoustics and stage mechanics were also renovated.

In almost two centuries the Gran Teatro has been host to prestigious opera, operetta, ballet, musical companies and artists of universal culture: Ana Pavlova, Carmen Amaya, Antonio Gades, Sara Bernhardt, Enrico Caruso, Titta Rufo, Marcel Marceau, Serguei Rachmáninov, Arthur Rubinstein, Daniel Barenboim, Pablo Casals, Jascha Heifetz, and Andrés Segovia; as well as the best of national art represented by Ignacio Cervantes, José White, Ernesto Lecuona and Rita Montaner.

Nationals and tourists alike, besides enjoying highly valued artistic presentations in the halls of the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, can appreciate through different types of guided tours its inner life, history, functioning and accumulated tradition.

By: Alina Dupré