A ruined shell for 40 years behind its protected neo-classical façade, the Teatro Marti in the centre of Havana was faithfully restored and re-opened in 2014. Originally opened in 1884, it was a popular venue in which to premier Cuban “zarzuelas” (musical comedies that preceded caberets) and for “Teatro Bufo” (satirical plays that often mocked the Spanish government of the time). In 1902, the theatre served as the meeting place for the National Assembly debating and drafting the constitution of the Republic of Cuba,
After a comprehensive reconstruction, which recreated the historic horseshoe auditorium and incorporated modern facilities such as a fly-tower, stage lighting and technical facilities, dressing rooms and accommodation for the artists and an outdoor café/bar and seating area, the theatre reopened in February of 2014, providing a splendid new theatre and concert venue in advance of the refurbishment of the Gran Teatro de La Habana <Alicia Alonso>, both demonstrating Cuba’s commitment to restoration of its historic buildings and to the arts.
Last month, the Theatre was the setting for the last concert in the Festival Mozart Habana 2016 with works by Mozart, Haydn and Schnittke. The Festival uses a number of different venues across Havana; a few days previously it held a concert in the old Basilica Menor San Francisco de Asis, built in the late 16th century and remodelled in 1730. A happy disaster in the church’s history was the collapse of the dome above the altar; the reconstruction accidentally achieving some of the best acoustics for musical performances in Cuba.