Built on the original site of the 18th century Concepción Monastery, the National Theater was styled on the opulent opera houses of Europe. Designed by Italian architect Genaro Ruggieri and engineered by Harmodio Florencio Arosemena, Duque & Arias were responsible for overseeing the construction which began in 1904.
The theater is revered for its opulent baroque architecture complete with a giant chandelier, gilded scarlet red balconies and magnificent ceiling frescoes by one of Panama’s most famous painters, Roberto Lewis.
Opened in 1908 with a presentation of Verdi’s Aida, the theater was a glamorous and sophisticated venue for the rich, but sadly fell into disrepair, even serving as a cinema at one point in its history.
In 2004 the Panamanian Government authority, The National Institute for Culture (INAC) initiated a restoration program and the theater was re-opened in 2008. It has since become the primary location for the performances of the Opera Foundation.
Seating a total of 853 guests in the amphitheater, auditorium, two level of balconies and gallery, the Theatre has an Orchestra pit, as well as fully functioning backstage facilities. It is now a veritable venue for music, ballet, opera and art performances in the Historic Casco Antiguo in Panama City – a World Heritage Site.