Parrillas & Opera Houses

I love strolling through Buenos Aires on a Sunday. There always seems to be a shared consensus of what this day is, whether this is fresh air, coffees, or as I see is popular, chupando on a park bench!

Having a visitor from New Zealand, I had another excuse to delve out from my little apartment and explore the city. As usual, there was a lot going on, which was surely enhanced by the public holiday, 8 October, a day of respect to cultural diversity.

We had a delicious lunch of gnocchi with creamy mushroom sauce and a grilled vegetable salad at a well-known parrilla in Palermo Hollywood, Miranda. We then wandered the streets of Palermo and San Nicolás on a little journey to the national historical monument and what is considered one of the world’s most impressive opera houses, El Teatro Colón.

Nothing short of impressive, what stands today replaced the original theatre, which was up and running between 1857 and 1888 on the square that’s now home to El Banco de la Nación. The construction of the new building took around 20 years and conforms with the rigid design requirements of the classical italian and french theatres.

El Teatro Colón is simply breathtaking with a studded dome positioned at the centre of the 48 metre high ceiling, framed by a wispy painted mural, and surrounded by 2,487 seats extending to 6 rows high.

Perched right at the top of the theatre, we were able to look down on the Sol Gabetta from Córdoba, Argentina, in a long flowing white dress that drew an interesting picture with her cello, and the sought after Bertrand Chamayou from Toulouse, France at the grand piano.  The music was beautiful and next to us a youthful Argentine had his untied long hair in his knees as he soaked up the various masterpieces from Claude Debussy, César Franck, Dmitri Shostakovich and Astor Piazzolla.

Those paying 1000 pesos for the front seats seemed to enjoy the show too, and the (obliged or just outright flattered) Sol and Bertrand came back for no less than 8 encores after a good many bravos and a neverending applause!

Don’t worry, not all the seats are up in that price range and you can get yourself a seat from 70 pesos, but a quick heads up stolen from the three young boys in the row in front: pack in a pair of binoculars to enhance the view. Regardless of where you are sitting, you will feel privileged to be in such a well-maintained, grand and beautiful space. With the constrasting surroundings this city offers, it allows a reminder of the grandeur that has so defined the city of Buenos Aires.

By Sarah Wattie. Sarah Wattie works for The Argentine Experience.


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