The Alcalá Theater is 109 years old

Teatro Macedonio Alcalá bears the name of a Mexican composer, an emblem of Oaxaca, turns 109 years old this month, surviving the earthquakes of 1931, 1999, and 2017.

In the first years of the last century, while campaigning for the governorship of Oaxaca, the lawyer Emilio Pimentel proposed to the Oaxacans the construction of a new theater for the capital, one of his first actions to reach the government. Pimentel was a member of the Porfirista group of Scientists, as well as a cultured person, lover of the arts and amateur pianist, qualities that were reflected in his administration and distinguished him as a prominent promoter of culture.

Construction plans were started in 1903 and completed six years later in 1909. The Teatro Macedonio Alcalá began to be built on August 4, 1904, on the instructions of engineer Rodolfo Franco Larráinzar, engineer of the state government of that period.

The theater was inaugurated on September 5, 1909, and became a great example of French-influenced modernist architecture, characteristic of Porfiriato. Originally it was a Casino Theater, called Luis Mier y Terán. Later it was renamed General Jesús Carranza, at the time of the revolution.

It was in the thirties that the theater was finally named Macedonio Alcalá, in honor of the Mexican musician and composer of the 19th century, author of the waltz God never dies.

After the inauguration ceremony, the newspaper La Unión published: “The theater is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and it is considered as first-class among those currently existing in the Republic […] The construction is elegant, artistic and fills a social need.”

In addition to housing plays, it also hosted boxing fights and film performances. It wasn’t until the remodeling that took place at the end of the 90s, following the earthquake of 1999, that it was restricted for cultural use.


About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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