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Tapia Theater Throughout History

June 7, 2002
Copyright © 2002
PUERTORICOWOW. All Rights Reserved. 

One of Puerto Rico's most cherished cultural monuments, El Teatro Tapia, celebrates 170 years of artistic history. To commemorate this milestone, San Juan Museum, with the sponsorship of City Hall, presents the historical and ambitious exhibition "El Teatro Tapia en la historia 1832-2002," (Tapia Theater Throughout History).

The yearlong educational exhibition presents an overview of the theater's history and role in the development of Puerto Rican theater. By using such artifacts as photos, blueprints, costumes, portraits, and other theater memorabilia, Tapia tells its tale.

"El Teatro Tapia en la historia 1832-2002" is divided into three sections; the first is dedicated to the landmark itself; from its construction to the present. The second is devoted to the man after which the theater was named, the famous Puerto Rican playwright Alejandro Tapia y Rivera. The final part of the exhibit outlines Puerto Rico's theatrical history.

The beginning

In 1824, Gov. & Gen. Capt. don Miguel de la Torre, together with Government Secretary Pedro Tomás de Córdova, presented a project for the creation of a theater in the city of San Juan. Construction of the theater was financed by subscriptions and taxes imposed on imported bread and liquor. Proceeds from the theater were used in the founding of the higher learning institute Seminario Conciliar.

Designed and built by engineer José Navarro y Herrero, construction began in 1824 and completed eight years later. Before its completion in 1830, the theater was used for a public dance to commemorate the wedding of Fernando VII.

The theater officially opened in 1832 with a recital by English tenor William Pearan and his wife Ann. Four years later, it became the property of the San Juan municipal government and was named Teatro Municipal. In 1937, the theater was renamed Teatro Tapia, to pay homage to Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, an illustrious Puerto Rican playwright.

This theater was and continues to be the setting for countless plays, recitals, zarzuelas, (Spanish operetta), operas, ballets, and other cultural events. This work of art has endured the test of time and is a constant reminder of Puerto Rico's theatrical and cultural richness. It is difficult to imagine that this relic and testimony was once endanger of being demolished.

Stop by and learn about one of Puerto Rico's most cherished cultural monuments. "El Teatro Tapia en la historia 1832-2002" will be on display until March 2003 at San Juan Museum, which is at 150 Calle Norzagaray in Viejo San Juan. Museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (787) 724-1875.

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