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Even though the theater was about to be finished in 1897, there was a missing detail:
which company would perform which spectacle for the opening. Many proposal were considered, but Mr. P.A. Aubry was selected to be the impresario in charge of hiring the French Opera Company. Some months later, on October 1, the French artists arrived in San José to begin rehearsals for the night that was to be remembered long after.

On the afternoon of October 21, the entrance of the National Theater was already crowded with hundreds wanting to get a glimpse of the elegantly dressed audience.

Diplomats, government members, and military men in full-dress uniform contributed to the solemnity of the ceremony. For the occasion, President Rafael Iglesias refused to go by carriage, preferring to walk from his house.

Admiring comments were made about the ornamentation, paintings and sculptures that decorated the theater, accentuated by the fact that there was nothing similar at that time in Costa Rica.

At 7:45 p.m., the curtain rose and the first chords of Faust filled the agiornoilluminated gallery, transporting the audience far into the realms of ecstasy.

The next day, San José was immersed in the still-fresh memories of the opening.

The press glorified the spectacle and commented on the talent and beauty of the French divas. The French Opera Company was to perform 64 more times, including works like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Boccacio and La Traviata, thus closing the first chapter in the history of famous performances in the National Theater.

1997 was the year of the centenary. Though San Joséís landscape has changed since carriages and trams clattered through its streets, the National Theater is still one of the cityís major jewels. It is a time capsule in which much of nineteenth century Costa Rica is still guarded and the applause of many generations is still heard.

Every day thousands walk before the theater where composer Ludwig van Beethoven and poet Calderón de la Barca busts embellish the Renaissance façade that features sculptures of the muses of music, Dance and Fame, by Pietro Bulgarelli.

Even as Costa Rica is famous for its natural wonders, the National Theater is a must for visitors interested in the culture and history of this country. The hall is open to the public, including the second-floor foyer. There is also a café inside the theater and continuous exhibitions in its vestibule.

A major attraction, the theater can be visited on the corner of Second avenue and Fifth street, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. The entrance fee is: ¢600 (approximately US$2.50).

Special thanks to Dr. Astrid Fischel V., who brought back to life the history of the National Theater.





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National Theater Beginning Opening