You cannot visit Recife and skip the most famous and beautiful theater in the region, the Santa Izabel Theater. With a rare neoclassic architecture, Santa Izabel theater was built in 1850, ten years after the beginning of its construction, led by the French engineer Louis Léger Vauthier. Together with the Court of Justice and the Campos das Princesas Palace (the Governor house), the theater makes part of the Republic Square.
Located at the center of the city, at the Santo Antônio neighborhood, the theater's name was given in honor of Princess Izabel (the daughter of the Emperor of Brazil Dom Pedro II), who at that time was four years old. The name could not be more emblematic; thirty-eight years later, in 1888, the same Princess Izabel proclaimed the end of Slavery in Brazil, giving freedom to black people in all the country.
Santa Izabel theater was not just a place for cultural exhibitions, but also had an essential role in the political causes, being the stage for critical political speeches, during the Brazilian Emperor's time. Joaquim Nabuco, an influential politician and diplomat from Recife, uttered the famous phrase that would be engraved on the theater's walls:
Here we won the cause for the abolition of slavery.
The theater also hosts the Recife Symphony Orchestra, the oldest Orchestra in Brazil, founded in 1930 by conductor Vicente Fittipaldi. So, a piece of advice I can give you is that if you are a big music fan, like me, try to schedule your trip around Recife on a date which permits you to see a performance of the Orchestra. First, because it is a unique experience and secondly because you can appreciate the splendid acoustics of the theater.
Nowadays the place has a capacity of 540 people, and opens every week, hosting the Recife Symphonic Orchestra and theater performances - you can check the schedule at their official website. Also, every Sunday you can join a free guided visit through the building, although, it's in the Portuguese language.
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