Across from the Guadalajara Cathedral, the Teatro Degollado looms in stony, neoclassical glory. Corinthian columns form a massive portico topped with a marble relief of Apollo and the nine muses. The length of the building’s rear wall is adorned with a stylish sculptural depiction of Guadalajara’s history; a fountain runs along the base.
The inside is even more over-the- top, with five tiers of gilded balconies and a ceiling frescoed with scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy. A red-and-gold color scheme is augmented with frippery, including a fearsome golden eagle above the stage. The eagle holds a chain in its beak: as legend has it, the theater will stand until the day the golden eagle drops its chain.
The theater was completed in 1866, at the height of Mexico’s great theatrical renaissance. Today the lavishly appointed building is home to classically Guadalajaran institutions, including International Mariachi competitions, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco, the Ballet Folklorico of the University of Guadalajara, and the Guadalajara City Ballet, as well as traveling performances and limited run shows.