Teatro Colon..

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Click here for pics from the last 2 days in Buenos Aires and the flight home. Last day in Buenos Aires left. We started the day getting all our bags ready so that we could check out before deciding what to do with our last 6 hours. By 9am, we had our bags packed, and left behind the counter. We hit the hotel restaurant, where we hooked up for a final breakfast with most of the group. 2 of the group had left the night before at 2am, heading off to Rio. Lucky for them, they had more vacation left to enjoy. Sadly, Jody and I were facing work in under 2 days. The last weekend. Boo. We had to make a decision on what to do. We had a little bit of shopping left to do, but we were also interested in visiting a world-known landmark, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. This is arguably the world’s best opera house. It has a long and storied history, which I couldn’t possibly get into in this brief post. We’d heard it was beautiful, but on our first weekend in town, had walked by it, and thought it wasn’t open, due to construction. We’d later learned it was in fact open, you just had to find the right entrance. The only obstacle in our way was that we hadn’t made reservations, and heard you really need them to get in. Oh well, it was our last day, and we wanted to take the chance. Read on…

After breakfast, we said our ‘see you soons’ to everyone left from the group. We weren’t comfortable saying good-bye, since we are sure we’ll see some of those people again soon. They’ve all been invited to visit us here in Ottawa, and hopefully they’ll take us up on it. We grabbed our daypacks, and headed to the theatre. We were aiming for the earliest English tour at 11am. We got there to find a pretty big line. Luckily, it was mostly Spanish speakers who already had reservations. We talked to the man with the list, and he said the earliest tour was 2pm. I begged with him, explaining we had a flight to catch and it was our last day there. He could only offer us the ‘stand-by’ option, much like a flight. We had to stand to the side, and hope a few people didn’t show up. I didn’t have much hope, given how famous this place is. However, knowing how some people like to over-indulge, we hoped somone would sleep in and not show up. The tension grew as time passed, as more people showed up, including a few other stand-by people. Luckily, the list man at least acknowledged we were first in the waiting line. The stress grew and grew, especially when it was after 11am, and the tour people were ushered into the theatre. Tense minutes passed, when we got the nod. In fact, all four of us that were waiting to get in managed to squeeze into the tour. Score!!

Well, I can assure you that is was well worth our while to get in on this tour. We didn’t simply see the lobby and main performance hall, but were actually led into the bowels of this world-class facility. I was extremely excited for this chance. Of course, we were told we could only take pictures in the lobby. Although I tried to sneak a few contra-band pics later in the tour, they mostly didn’t turn out, due to the lighting. We did manage to get a few great shots of the prop rooms and workshops. Apparently those guys are the only ones proud enough of what they do to let anyone take pictures. Let me tell you, those props are quite impressive up close. The other neat things we learned was that this theatre is HUGE. We toured through the underground passages, seeing all sorts of sound proof rehearsal halls and dance studios. Everywhere we turned, people were praticing different things. Like the national orchestra in one really big studio, a xylopohone player honing his craft, the ballet troop working on a future show, etc. It was very cool. We also learned that the theatre complex employs a remarkable 1,800+ people. They make all their own props, so they have wood shops, welding shops, shoe shops, dress shops, wig shops, etc. etc. They also rent out some of their creations throughout the world. In one spot, there was a whole bunch of boxes heading out to the LA Opera. Although overall the complex showed many signs of wear and aging, one could easily get the sense of the former glory and greatness that this hall has enjoyed in the past.

In order to bring this facility back to its’ previous state, shows are not currently being shown here. There is currently an extensive renovation going on. These are planned to be complete by 2008, where they will re-open with Aida, which is the performance which opened it in the first place. I can only imagine how hard it will be to get tickets to that show! They’re running into all sorts of issues in the process of the renovation. Issues such as how to re-upholster the seats, and change all the curtains. It is said that this theatre has perfect acoustics, due in large part to all the specific materials being used. However, in order to bring this place up to code, and into the 21st century, they have to introduce fire-retardent materials. There are significant concerns that this will impact the acoustics. Sadly, due to money woes, people are worried that they won’t be able to run all the appropriate tests to ensure perfect materials. I can only hope that this will not be the case, and that the acoustics will still come up perfect. I’d really like to see a performance there some day. All in all, this was a great way to spend a few hours on our last day.

After the theatre, we strolled back to the pedestrian mall for one last walk, then found a little place for one last meal. I opted for pizza, Jody for a tuna sandwich. Not steaks by any means, but a fitting meal in a fitting place. We then wrapped up the day with finishing off some tourist shopping. I bought a bottle of Fernet Branca, a local hard liquor (pretty harsh actually), as well as a soccer towel/scarf from argentina for the bar. Not sure where I’ll put it yet, but it’s pretty nice. I also picked up a couple tango CDs. All in all, I really didn’t get too many souvenirs. Really, I came to see and experience the country, not drag a bunch of stuff back to prove it. I won’t forget the experience, so I didn’t need any trinkets for that reason. One final packing job, to get the liquids safely packed in our checked bags, and we headed to the airport. Boo hoo. Next stop: Ottawa..

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