Inaugurated in March 2018, the Teatro Biobío is a space that brings together various shows and artistic-cultural programs in the Biobío region, located in southern Chile. Since its second year of activities, the theater has incorporated opera under the modality of co-production with other spaces, the latest being Patagonia, by the Chilean composer Sebastián Errázuriz and co-produced with the Teatro del Lago. The institution’s executive director, Francisca Peró, points out that “the Ópera Latinoamérica network is very large and allows us to generate ties where we can also incorporate learning around opera production in different formats.” In addition, she maintains that “one of the focuses we have today is to internationalize local talent, and for this it is extremely important to be able to have active networks.”
The Teatro Biobío of Chile joins the network of Ibero-American theaters of Ópera Latinoamérica (OLA), being the sixth institution in that country linked to the organization. The executive director of the theatre, Francisca Peró, who took over her position since the inauguration, explains that the decision to join OLA is due to the interest in “promoting collaborative work around opera and poetry”.
It is no coincidence, therefore, that the Teatro Biobío is preparing to premiere next March the opera Patagonia, by the Chilean composer Sebastián Errázuriz. The opera will be co-produced with the Teatro del Lago de Frutillar, an institution that is also a member of OLA. In this sense, Francisca Peró, who is an actress by profession and a cultural manager, acknowledges that “we cannot do opera alone, it is a job that we believe should be done online”.
The opera, however, has been developed at the Teatro Biobío since the second year in which the institution began its activities. In 2019, the theater premiered Madama Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini, its first production made in conjunction with the Universidad de Concepción Cultural Corporation (CORCUDEC).
“OLA has already been a contribution because we were part of ProChile’s mission of Chilean theaters in Spain, in that meeting we incorporated collaboration and learning networks regarding the various formats that exist in opera. Not all opera productions have to be large format and there is a prejudice around this. Contemporary formats, crossings, small opera formats can be made that can allow this art to be closer and possible to produce”, explains Peró.
A commitment to internationalizing local talent
The inauguration of the Teatro Biobío took place on March 7, 2018, with a billboard that included the play El pájaro de Chile (‘The Bird of Chile’), written by the playwright Leyla Selman, and the presentation of the Oscar-winning Chilean film, A Fantastic Woman, by Sebastián Lelio.
Over time, the theater changed its cultural offer. Being located in the city of Concepción, “a very culturally rich region,” according to Francisca Peró, the Teatro Biobío programming is dedicated to highlighting local productions and shows. Music and theater are the disciplines that “have generated big names” and also developed “high-quality exponents,” says Peró.
“One of the focuses we have today is to internationalize local talent, and for this it is very important to be able to have active networks. It was necessary to have a theater in the region that values arts and culture, a theater like ours with an infrastructure that until now only existed in the capital of Chile, Santiago. This public policy signal is very visionary, as it will allow over time a strong development of artistic creativity and the development of audiences”, explains the executive director of the Teatro Biobío.
A theater with a “living structure”
The Teatro Biobío began its feat in 2011, with a public call for architecture organized by the Chilean government body, the National Council for Culture and the Arts. The contest was awarded by the Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, who has carried out projects such as the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London, England, among others.
On the architecture of the theatre, Francisca Peró comments: “The building is in its entirety a living structure, appreciated, hated, admired. For me, the architecture of the building is inspiring and is inseparable from the programming. It is part not only from a technical perspective, but also in a symbolic sense.”
Taking into account the relationship between the artistic-cultural programming of the theater and the design of Smiljan Radic, Peró adds that “everything in it is theatrical, the stairs in the artistic area are red, the dressing rooms are the best I have seen in the world , the stage of the main room is the largest in Chile and allows programming works in all imaginable formats”.
Regarding her favorite space in the building, the executive director of the Teatro Biobío states: “The place that never ceases to impress me every day is the main stage, it is still overwhelming to see it, even more so when we were without an audience for so long, to see the people gathering is always my favorite place.”