The current Teatro Colon was built in 1908 to replace the original 1857 structure that had clearly been neglected by the populace of Buenos Aires. Our guide for the tour was Marielle, who began by greeting us in traditional Spanish:
“Buenos dias, Senors y Senoras!”
Much to our surprise, Marielle then continued in traditional Spanish. The nice gentleman at the ticket counter hadn’t asked us what language we preferred, and since he spoke English (and clearly we spoke only English), we assumed the tour was in English. But then, we were in Buenos Aires so I suppose Spanish should have been expected.
In any case we managed to muddle through a tour of the beautiful building and Marielle even surprised us with an aria from The Marriage of Figaro (in Italian, of course). But the most interesting part of the tour was the Curse of the Teatro and the case of the tardy architect.
It seems the first architect of the original Teatro was an Italian who tragically died of a bad cold at the age of 44. The second architect was also Italian and worked incredibly hard to get the theater built. He often worked long hours and was always tardy for dinner and the oft-neglected affections of his wife. After many long days and late nights away from home he decided to surprise his wife by coming home early. To his own surprise he found her in bed with the butler, who used the architect’s own gun to kill him – at the age of 44.
The third and final architect was a 66-year old Belgian; the Teatro was not taking any more chances with 44-year-old Italians. He lived to see the completion of the theater, after which he was shot onstage during the opening performance. After all, the Argentines didn’t want any more European scandals. Enough is enough already. Notwithstanding the unscripted murder scene, Aida was exceptional as always and received a standing ovation. The Teatro Colon was open.
At least I think that is what she said. After all, I don’t speak Spanish.
David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.