Havana (16)

Source: Photograph (2010) by WTL© on site in Havana.
Comment: The theater in this building is the Gran Teatro de La Habana (Havana's Great Theater). Originally (1915) the building was the Palacio del Centro Gallego (Palace of the Galician Center; i.e., for Spain's criollo elite, many of whom came from the Galicia region in Spain). The theater inside is one of the world's largest and most elegant opera houses (see: => Havana #17). The architect was the Belgian Paul Belau. The façade style is German Neo-Baroque. The four marble sculptures on the façade represent Charity, Education, Music, and Theater. The inaugural performance here was the opera Aida (1871) by the Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. In 1959, the Gran Teatro became the principal venue for the great Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso. Along with her husband Fernando Alonso, she founded the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and organized the annual Cuban ballet festival, which the professor-photographer had the honor of visiting (see next page). In fact, the building was known as the Palacio del Centro Gallego until 1985 when Alicia Alonso campaigned successfully to have the name changed to Gran Teatro de La Habana. For a fine article about Alberto Alonso, Alberto's wife Sonia Calero, Alberto's brother Fernando Alonso, the latter's former wife Alicia Alonso, twentieth-century ballet in Cuba, and Santa Fe College's latter-day role in their lives and art, see: => The Independent. For a nice article about Alicia Alonso's 90th birthday celebration in New York City in 2010, see: => "Still Dancing." She remains the director of the Cuban National Ballet, however. For an updated article in 2016 on the state of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and Alicia Alonso, when she was 95 years old, see: => "Cuban Ballet: Proud Past, Promising Future" by Brian Seibert for the New York Times.

Humanities questions: (A) Compare and contrast this grand theater with those in Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro. (B) Give your opinion of classical ballet in light of the fact that Cuba has such a world renowned ballet company.