Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Mazatlan's Angela Peralta Theater

The Mexican resort of Mazatlán is best known for its sunshine, sandy beaches, and raucous nightlife fueled by locally brewed Pacifico beer. However, this vibrant city of some 500,000 souls also has a sophisticated cultural life, much of which centers around the beautifully restored 19th-century Teatro Angela Peralta.

This Neoclassical style opera house started life in 1874 as the Teatro Rubio. It was renamed the Teatro Angela Peralta after the world-renowned Mexican opera singer Angela Peralta and most of her troupe died of yellow fever during a visit to Mazatlán in 1883. Tragically, Angela Peralta never got to perform in the theater that is now dedicated to her memory. She was only 38 years old when she passed away.

The Teatro Angela Peralta thrived until 1964, staging operas, plays, and even boxing matches. The theater then fell into disuse and was all but abandoned. Adding insult to injury, it was eventually flooded by a hurricane in 1975 and was later used as a parking garage. Not until 1987 did the city decide to start restoring the Teatro Angelo Peralta as part of an ambitious plan to rejuvenate Mazatlan's extensive historical center, which includes 180 city blocks of handsome 19th-century and early 20th-century architecture.

Restoration of the dilapidated structure took five years, and it reopened in 1992. A gallery on the theater's second floor displays black and white photographs chronicling the reconstruction. One memorable image shows a roofless ruin with a large tree growing where the theater's main stage now stands. Today, the Teatro Angela Peralta has become the primary symbol of Old Mazatlan's revitalization. The theater attracts international talent and once again hosts concerts and theatrical presentations. It is also home to an acclaimed dance company and school.

The Teatro Angela Peralta is located on Avenida Carnaval just off Plazuela Machado, Old Mazatlan's lively main plaza. For 12 pesos (about $1.00), visitors can explore the theater's sumptuous interior and archival photo gallery. Opening hours are 8am until 3pm daily.

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