The stunning Theatro Municipal (Municipal Theater) is intricately designed, with golden rooftop statues and stately neoclassical columns that buttress the facade. Inside, grand spectator suites and elegant balconies offer superb views of the stage where Sarah Bernhardt, Maria Callas, and Igor Stravinsky once captivated audiences.
Unless you are attending a performance, the only way to see the luxurious interiors of the Theatro Municipal is on a guided tour of the theater. If you are short on time, you can simply view the exterior on a historical walking tour of downtown Rio de Janeiro. These tours also usually visit the nearby Museu Nacional de Belas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) and Biblioteca Nacional (National Library).
Things to Know Before You Go
- Theatro Municipal is a must-see for architecture fans.
- The theater mostly hosts productions of ballet and classical music.
- On performance days, visitors may not enter wearing shorts or flip-flops.
- You can buy guided tour tickets online or at the box office.
- On Sunday there are sometimes open rehearsals that are free to attend.
How to Get There
Theatro Municipal is located in downtown Rio de Janeiro, in the Centro district. It is situated on the north side of the Cinelandia square, home also to the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes and the Biblioteca Nacional. If you’re traveling by metro, it’s only a 5-minute walk from the Cinelandia and Carioca stations to the theater.
When to Get There
The theater’s facade is an extraordinary sight at any time, but if you wish to explore the interior, tours take place Tuesday to Friday at 11am, 2:30pm, and 4pm, and on Saturday and holidays at 11am, 12pm, and 1pm. There are no tours Sunday or Monday.
The Theater’s Historic Beginnings
Inspired by the Paris Opera, the Theatro Municipal was inaugurated in 1909. For the first two decades, productions featured French and Italian theater companies almost exclusively. It wasn’t until 1931 that Brazilian talent was integrated into the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater Orchestra. One grand production was that of the seminal Brazilian opera O Guarani.