Palacio de Bellas Artes

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Palacio de Bellas Artes
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Palacio de Bellas Artes

The Palacio de Bellas Artes ("Palace of Fine Arts") is an opera house in Mexico City. It was designed by the Italian architect Adamo Boari in 1901 but construction was not completed until 1934.

The building is famous for both its extravagant Art Nouveau exterior in imported Italian white marble as well as its murals by Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco

Rivera's "Man in Control of the Universe" (or "Man at the Crossroads") mural was originally painted for the Rockefeller Center in New York City but Rockefeller ordered it destroyed for being too radical. Rivera repainted it here in 1934.

The theater is used for classical music, opera and dance, notably the Ballet Folklórico. Maria Callas sang in several productions at the Palacio early in her career, and recordings exist of several of her performances here.

The Palacio has two museums: the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museo de la Arquitectura. Metro Bellas Artes is located alongside.

History

During the late 19th century and going into the first years of the 20th century, during Porfirio Díaz's 30-year rule of Mexico, there was a marked tendency to imitate European art, styles and customs. Following this tendency, a plan for a new Teatro Nacional (National Theater) was laid out and construction of a new building began on October 1, 1904. The plans were drawn up by Italian architect Adamo Boari, using state-of-the-art technology as was common in European theaters.

Another view showing the building during restoration work for the dome which was completed in 2004.
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Another view showing the building during restoration work for the dome which was completed in 2004.

Construction was originally scheduled to be finished by 1908; however, it was delayed by problems with Mexico City's soil, notoriously muddy in composition and which led to the gradual subsidence of the building; matters were further complicated by the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

Boari left Mexico in 1916 and construction was virtually stopped until 1932, when works were resumed under Mexican architect Federico Mariscal; completion took place in 1934. The square with gardens and pegasus statues, devised by Boari himself, was not completed until 1994.

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