In the early 19th century, the citizens of Montevideo wanted to create a public space to meet and express their social and political ideas. They envisioned a cultural hub unique to South America but rivaling the art and architecture of European city centers. And so the magnificent Teatro Solís was born.
The theater was designed by the Italian architect Carlo Zucchi using timber and marble brought over from Europe and stored away while war raged in Uruguay. After years of delay, the theater finally opened in 1856 with a rendition of Verdi’s opera Ernani.
Located in Montevideo’s Plaza Independencia, the building is a perfect example of neoclassical, Old World architectural splendor. The design—including the elegant façade (which has been completely restored), carved canopy and pillars, and elliptical interior—was heavily influenced by Italian architecture. The similarities can be seen in the Teatro Carlo in Genoa, the Milanese Teatro alla Scala, and most of all the Teatro Metastasio di Prato near Florence.
As Uruguay’s oldest and most renowned cultural theater, Teatro Solís has launched the careers of many Uruguayan actors, singers, and musicians, as well as attracting famous performers from around the world. Headliners over the years include the actresses Sarah Bernhardt, Margarita Xirgú, and Vivien Leigh; tenors Francesco Tamagno and Enrico Caruso; Spanish classical guitarist Andrés Segovia; dancer Isadora Duncan; and pianist Arthur Rubinstein.