After three years of intense restoration efforts, Raul Castro and other Cuban officials celebrated the reopening of the historic Gran Teatro de La Habana “Alicia Alonso” at a gala on Friday marking the 57th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
Castro attended the rededication gala in the Gran Teatro’s Federico Garcia Lorca Hall alongside famed Cuban ballerina and the Gran Teatro’s namesake, Alicia Alonso, on Jan. 1, which featured a performance by the National Ballet of Cuba, choreographed by Alonso.
At the gala, the Gran Teatro, the oldest theater still in use in Latin America, was dedicated to those who contributed to the theater’s extensive restoration.
In early 2013, the Gran Teatro closed to undergo a complete restoration.
According to TeleSur, Cuban Minister of Culture Julian Gonzalez Toledo, who led Friday’s ceremony, said that the three-year restoration effort included installation of modern sound and light systems.
Located across from Parque Central in Havana, the Gran Teatro opened in April 1838 as a social center for Galician immigrants. The Great Tacon Theater, as it was then known, was demolished in 1907 and the present-day neobaroque building was constructed and reopened in 1915.
The Gran Teatro is adorned with stone and marble and contains sculptures by Giuseppe Moretti, an Italian sculptor, depicting benevolence, music, education and theater.
The building houses a concert hall, theaters, conference rooms, as well as an art gallery and several rehearsal halls.
Since its construction, some of the 19th and 20th centuries’ greatest artists have graced the stages of the Gran Teatro, including Sarah Bernhardt, Ole Bull, Enrico Caruso, Fanny Elssler, Jenny Lind and Anna Pavlova, and has featured performances by world class dance companies such as the American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Ballet of the Colón Theatre of Buenos Aires and the Ballet Folclórico of Mexico.
In September 2015, the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba renamed the Gran Teatro to honor Alicia Alonso, Cuban prima ballerina assoluta, for her efforts and contribution to Cuban culture.
In 1948, Alonso founded the National Ballet of Cuba, who has been calling the Gran Teatro home since 1965.
A sculpture of Alonso, who turned 95 in December, will be placed in the lobby of the theater.
(Featured Image by Susanne Bollinger)