The splendid turn-of-the-20th-century Teatro Municipal (Praça Ramos de Azevedo, Centro, tel. 11/3222-8698, www.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/cidade/secretarias/cultura/teatromunicipal) is home to the highly reputed Orquestra Sinfônica Municipal and the city’s classical ballet company, Balé da Cidade. It also features high-quality classical music, dance, and opera performances.
The Estação Júlio Prestes, a renovated train station, houses the Sala São Paulo (Praça Júlio Prestes, Luz, tel. 11/3223-3966, www.salasaopaulo.art.br), whose impeccable acoustics are enhanced by the auditorium’s unique roof featuring adjustable wooden panels. Home to the acclaimed Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (OSESP), it also hosts other orchestras.
The futuristic Auditório Ibirapuera (Parque do Ibirapuera, Portão 2, tel. 11/6846-6040, www.auditorioibirapuera.com.br) could only have been designed by Oscar Niemeyer. During performances of erudite music, the enormous red tongue-shaped door behind the stage often opens, allowing you to meditate upon the greenery of Ibirapuera park.
The state-of-the-art Teatro Alfa (Rua Bento Branco de Andrade Filho 722, Santo Amaro, tel. 11/5693-4000, www.teatroalfa.com.br) and the more traditional Teatro Cultura Artística (Rua Nestor Pestana 196, Cerqueira César, tel. 11/3258-3344, www.culturaartistica.com.br) are both top venues for concerts, theater, and dance.
Meanwhile, even if your Portuguese is shaky, it’s worth checking out the interactive offerings of vanguard dramaturge José Celso (Zé Celso) Martinez Corrêa, who operates the historical Teatro Oficina (Rua Jaceguai 520, Bela Vista, tel. 11/3104-0676, http://teatroficina.uol.com.br). Planned by architect Lina Bo Bardi, the landmark theater was designed to break down boundaries between actors and audience. Although performances of playwrights such as Euripedes, Shakespeare, and Genet last for hours, the fact that audience members are encouraged to walk in and out of the narrative action ensures you won’t be bored.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition