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Since 2003 we’ve been going to Buenos Aires on a regular bases, not once did we manage to get tickets for the famous Teatro Colon. It was either sold out, there were no performances at that specific time or they were on strike, and until recently it had been closed for restoration for the last 4 years,  .  On the 25th of May, the100th anniversary  and the 200th birthday of the country’s first government,  the theatre was opened to the public once more. As us can guess, it was completely sold out as well…

Thanks to some friends, we managed to get tickets, and we were more then happy to finally go to the theatre and see “Manon”. A French opera by Jules Massenet, just like Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut”, based on the story written by Abé Antoine Prevost. It was first performed at the Opera-Comique in Paris in 1884, and at the Teatro Colon on the 2nd of June 1910.  One hundred years ago.

The story of Manon Lescaut is a simple story of a woman, on her way to the monastery to become a nun, who ends up as a woman of ‘ill-fame’ and destroys the man she loves.

Manon (played by Paula Almares) was great, she sings superbly, although her French is really bad. I couldn’t believe that in a theatre like this they didn’t have someone helping the actors with their accent. In general the men didn’t impress me much. The opera in its whole was very good and didn’t tire for a second. Although Manon isn’t my favourite, it has –in my opinion- few nice arias; I enjoyed every minute of it.

Here in Argentina, going to the opera is still a feast, unlike attending the opera in my hometown Gent, people here dress up; both men and women arrived in their Sunday best. It seemed that many people had brought their camera, so everywhere in the entrance hall you could see people posing for photos. Entering the main hall in all its beauty, seeing all these good-looking people, it was bliss.

I didn’t expect too much of it, thinking that this would not be so different to other buildings, but I was mistaken…I was really impressed with what I saw, from the start until the end. The theatre itself is completely decorated with golden ornaments, the mahogany and deep red velvet seats, the numbers on the seats are nicely decorated in gold (or bronze?).  Everything was just right.

During the intermission we followed the crowd, hoping they would lead us to the bar, but it turned out that people were just strolling through the corridors and halls, chatting, admiring and taking pictures. The halls we walked through were really majestic, everything so perfectly restored that it looks brand new. Even though the city of Buenos Aires has lost the grandeur of past times, here in the theatre it is revived, one can imagine what it must have been like one hundred years ago. The stateliness reminds me of Versailles, but better restored, (but then I can’t imagine Versailles being closed down completely for restoration as they did with this theatre: it would be closed for a life span.) The Theatre Colon is absolutely fantastic; it is obvious that no peso has been spared to bring it back to its original state. This is definitely the most beautiful building in Argentina and one of the nicest buildings in the world. Three hurray’s for Kristina!

At the end of the Opera, when everyone was still applauding, they opened the 3 huge entrance doors. Just then realised that people didn’t only make use of the cloakroom just to show off with their nice fur coats! As soon as we could and as fast as my high heels could carry me, we got our coats and rushed off to find a cab home. It must have been one of the coldest nights in this already coldest winter in years. I was freezing to death. We found a cab right away and while warming up again inside the taxi and discussing the show, we saw the homeless sleeping on the street and on the porches. They must have been freezing to death. Again 3 hurray’s for Kristina.