Address: Libertad 621 (main entrance)
Phone: +5411 4378 7100
Whether you are a theater connoisseur, familiar with the operatic tenor of Pavarotti, or just a curious first-timer who wants to feel classy for a night in Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It doesn’t matter if you speak Spanish, English, Italian or an obscure variation of Romansh – this theater speaks art. And in many forms – opera, ballet, and orchestral concerts. You will have no problem understanding the gracefully bowed arm, the ballet slipper en pointe, the mind-shattering octave of a falsetto register, or the gentle whine of a violin. All speak quite clearly to the heart of culture.
Buying Tickets for a show at Teatro Colón
At the Theater:
Purchasing a ticket at Teatro Colón as a foreigner can be a bit tricky, whether navigating around the Spanish website or the colossal building itself. Since the theater takes up an entire city block, there are typically three different addresses given – Tucumán 1171 is the entrance on the southern side of the building, which provides access into the ticket office (boletería), guided tour area, and a small café. There is also an entrance to this “Pasaje de Carruajes” on the north side of the building as well. Cerrito 127 is the address for the Information Center, and is located at the back of the building, on the eastern edge near Av. 9 del Julio. Libertad 621 is the main entrance, right across the street from the park, and is pretty hard to miss. This is where the taxis and limousines pull up to drop off the swanky red-carpet strutters in shawls and tuxedos.
Buying tickets at the boletería is probably the easiest method, if you are already in the city and have time to stop by. They accept cash or credit cards and, if you are going to be in the city for an extended period of time, you can look into purchasing a season ticket to save some pesos. Once there, you can always take a guided tour of the theater or have lunch at the restaurant. The ticket office is open Monday – Saturday 10am-8pm and Sunday 10am-5pm and tickets for shows are usually on sale a few weeks in advance if not a bit more. To see a schedule of events, go to www.teatrocolon.org.ar/en/ for English.
If you are not yet in the area and would like to purchase your tickets online, go to www.teatrocolon.org.ar/en/ for English and click on the “Buy Tickets Here” section in the top right corner. Next, pick which event you would like to see (opera, ballet, or concert), pick your seat based on the seating map or prices provided, and then go through the paying process. This requires setting up a “TicketTek” account, which is a completely safe but somewhat involved process. You will need to provide a “Document Number,” typically your passport number unless you are an Argentine citizen, and you must bring this document with you to the theater when you pick up your tickets, along with the credit card you used to pay for them (this is to ensure they don’t give your tickets away to the wrong person). You must arrive at the theater ticket office one hour before the show to pick them up, and only the person who bought the tickets is allowed to do this (not your wife, husband, or a Spanish-speaking friend).
*Update: Teatro Colón has changed online merchant/ticket sales systems to “Tu Entrada”: https://www.tuentrada.com/colon/Online/
Ticket prices range anywhere from $30 to over $1,000 pesos (May 2012), depending on the event and how close or “centered” the seat. There are 2500 chairs available for purchasing (the only ones that can’t be bought are the presidential and mayoral box seats) and 500 available for standing. The more economic ticket prices are tempting (between 30 and 55 pesos) but keep in mind that these usually require standing (“de pie”), sometimes for four hours or more. With other cheaper tickets, like some of the “lateral” seats, you will not be able to see the stage or only be able to see part of it. They notify you of this before purchasing the ticket, but only in Spanish.
It is recommended (by the theater) that gentlemen arrive in tuxedos and women in evening attire for the “Gran Abono” shows, especially for those sitting in the more expensive seats. In any event, it is a good idea to dress up – if you’re unsure what to wear, black “funeral attire” seems to let you blend in nicely.
There are free events open to the public that happen most often in the “Golden Room.” At times there are also free shows on Sundays and Mondays but these do not happen on a regular basis. Keep an eye out in the calendar and be sure to pick up a ticket 48 hours in advance. They go quickly.
Guided tours run every day of the week (including holidays) from 9:00am-5:00pm in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. With a tour leaving every 15 minutes, you can usually show up and get in with very little wait time. If you have a large group of over 20 people, reservations are available but not on Saturdays and Sundays.
The tour price for foreigners is $180 pesos (Oct 2015) and for Argentine nationals, $60 pesos. This price is more than the cost for some of the actual shows, but it is the only way to see the entire interior of the theater. Each tour lasts 50 minutes, with plenty of time for pictures, and provides a detailed history of the building. Go to http://www.teatrocolon.org.ar/en/content/guided-tours for more information about guided tours.
Teatro Colón History
Originally constructed in the Plaza de Mayo in 1857, Teatro Colón was built at the behest of the wealthy Argentine families who wanted to bring a bit of European elitism to the Western hemisphere – to establish a cultural epicenter that would permeate Parisian class and lifestyle. At the time, however, the city didn’t quite have the upper-class to sustain such an expensive undertaking, not even enough to fill the 2500 seats of the theater, and the project went bankrupt. But the nickname for Buenos Aires as the “Paris of the West” stuck.
After a 20-year reconstruction and relocation between the years 1888-1908, three separate architects (two of whom died during construction) finally made Teatro Colón into the historical gem it is today. Infusing the styles of classical Italian, French baroque, and German austerity, the building, like Buenos Aires, became an amalgamation of European influences summarized in one culturally-rich space. The gold-plated pillars, plush red velvet seats, stained-glass ceilings, giant chandeliers, and 1966 frescoes painted by Raúl Soldi make it truly the “spiritual” experience it was originally designed by Francesco Tamburini to be. Today, after multiple restorations throughout the last decade, it is ranked one of the top five best concert venues in the world for its acoustic quality.