Argentina’s Bicentennial and Teatro Colón

May 25th was Argentina’s Bicentennial, and by dumb luck we were in Buenos Aires for the epicenter of the celebration!  It was a huge event that was celebrated for 4 days in the capital and country, and the government gave everyone a 4-day weekend.  In order to properly celebrate, 9 de Julio, a 12 lane avenue going through the center of town was shut down, and turned it into a fairgrounds of sorts.  We paid a visit, but the crowds from the city and countryside were so thick that we only got a few glimpses of the parade and exhibits.  Luckily we didn’t try to visit on the actual bicentennial, the 25th, when over 2 million people showed up.  Some of our friends were stuck “celebrating” until early the next morning.

We also attended a friendly soccer match between Argentina and Canada to celebrate and warm up the national team heading to South Africa to dispute the world cup.  The passion of the Argentinean fans for their national team was spectacular to see, though the weak lip syncing and fake instrument playing of the “superbowl like” halftime party left a bit to be desired.  As predicted Argentina demolished the Canadians, and everyone left with high hopes for the coming tournament.

The highlight of our Bicentennial however, was our visit to the Teatro Colón.  The regal Colón is regarded as one of the top opera houses in the world, but it had been closed for four years for renovations that were only supposed to take a year.  The city finally got things in order for the Bicentennial, and as promised the theater re-opened.  As expected, buying tickets to the opera was a farce, and I waited 4 hours in line when the box office opened to get our seats.  (There weren’t many people in line, but the ignorant staff and lousy computer system meant that each purchase took 20 minutes.  I made the most of the wait though, and turned it into a 4 hour Spanish conversation class, talking about opera, politics, and life with my fellow theater enthusiasts.)  The wait was worth it though, and we were treated to a marvelous performance of La Boheme in a wonderful setting.  Everyone sitting near us was excited to be there, and eagerly gushed to us about the history of the theater and how the impressively heavy chandelier above the audience can actually be lowered to ground level to be cleaned and fixed.  Once again luck had shined in our favor and we were able to attend a beautiful and historic show.

Congrats on 200 Argentina, and here’s a toast to 200 more!

–Gabe

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