The Teatro Argentino de La Plata is the second most important lyric opera house in Argentina, after the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. The theatre is located in a central block of the city of La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires Province.
The original building was a classic Italian opera house, conceived in Renaissance style by the Italian architect Leopoldo Rocchi. Construction began in 1887, five years after the foundation of the city of La Plata itself. The main hall had a capacity of ca. 1,500 seats. It was inaugurated on November 19, 1890, with Giuseppe Verdi's Otello. The theatre grew to accommodate a renowned stable orchestra and chorus. A stable ballet company was added in 1946. Among the great artists that performed at the Teatro Argentino we find singers such as Maria Barrientos, Luisa Tetrazzini, Marian Anderson, Emma Carelli, Fedora Barbieri, Tito Schipa, Beniamino Gigli, Titta Ruffo, and Mario del Monaco, classical ballet dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Dore Hoyer and Iris Scaccheri, as well as musicians such as Pietro Mascagni, Richard Strauss (with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra), Arthur Rubinstein, Andrés Segovia, Alexander Brailowsky, Claudio Arrau, Pablo Casals, and Yehudi Menuhin.
A major fire destroyed the original building in 1977, leaving only a badly damaged exterior walls standing. The Goverment chose to replace the theatre with a massive Theatre & Cultural Centre designed in a brutalist style. During the intervening years (1977–1999), the Teatro Argentino companies continued to produce performances in various La Plata venues, notably the former movie theatre Gran Rocha. After much planning and rescheduling due to economic difficulties, the new building was finished and inaugurated on October 12th 1999 with a performance that included excerpts from works of Giuseppe Verdi, Charles Gounod, Umberto Giordano and Gaetano Donizetti, as well as the ballet Tango en gris, with music by Atilio Stampone and choreography by Oscar Araiz.
The new complex includes today a 2,000-seat operatic venue with a typical European horseshoe structure, named Alberto Ginastera Hall after the famous Argentine composer. An enormous three-tonne bronze chandelier with 400 light-bulbs hangs over the main floor, in an exact replica of the one featured in the original building.
The complex also includes the smaller 300-seat Ástor Piazzolla Hall, as well as rehearsal areas, and space for the associated technical shops. The lower level includes the Emilio Pettoruti Exhibition Hall for permanent and transient art collections.