The 1000-seat Teatro La Perla is a historic theater located in the Ponce Historic Zone in barrio Tercero. Unveiled in 1864, it’s not the oldest theater in Puerto Rico (that title belongs to Tapia Theater) but it’s considered the biggest and most historic in the Caribbean.
The Design of the Theater
Teatro La Perla was designed by Juan Bertoli Calderoni in the 1860s, a 19th century French architect who lived in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He also designed other well known structures such as the Centro Cultural de Ponce building and the Museo de la Música Puertorriqueña.
The theater has an impressive 6-column entrance and has a neoclassical structure. In 1918, it was damaged by an earthquake and a fire a few years later, but was rebuilt more than 2 decades later using the original design. Today, Teatro La Perla plays a crucial role in the world of performing arts in Ponce. It holds many performances during festivals and it is also used heavily by the Instituto de Musica Juan Morel Campos.
The theater was built through the initiative of Francisco Parra Duperon with the help of Pedro Garriga in the 1860s. During its inauguration in 1864, the play written by Juan Palou y Coll, La campana de la Almudaina, was performed by Segarra & Argente (a theatrical company). Teatro La Perla was named in honor of the La Virgen de Montserrat or the Pearl of the Mediterranean.
Many performances are held in this theater but it is not only a stage suited for theatrical shows; it is also a place where people who are passionate about the social issues concerning the city and the entire Puerto Rico gather.
Should You Visit Teatro La Perla?
If you are interested in history, culture and local arts, then a visit to this theater is a must. It’s a very active theater and there’s usually a show or theater festival scheduled on most days but even if there is no production on a particular day, then the building itself is worthy of appreciation.
The 1,000 seats in this theater are very comfy, and the acoustics are exceptionally clear and impressive. Some people have even commented that mics are no longer necessary.
The Teatro La Perla is a regular venue for concerts, plays, operas and civic activities including graduations and beauty pageants. It was also the place where the very first silent film in Puerto Rico was shown in 1901.
If you are staying in a hotel nearby, then do include Teatro La Perla in your list of must-visit places. You’ll never know what kind of show you’ll see when you’re there. The lobby is open from 8am to 430pm, Mondays through Fridays. They have some display items that depict the building’s history and the famous shows that were performed there. You can also visit the official website of Teatro La Perla to check the event schedules but it’s written in Spanish though.