Theatro Municipal de São Paulo – São Paulo, Brazil - Atlas Obscura

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Theatro Municipal de São Paulo

Ella Fitzgerald, opera singer Enrico Caruso, and dancer Isadora Duncan all performed in this lavish, supposedly haunted theater. 


The Theatro Municipal de São Paulo, or the Municipal Theater of São Paulo, is located in the city center of Brazil’s largest city. In the early 20th century, the elites of São Paulo wanted a venue to welcome the greatest performers of the day, from opera sopranos to ballet dancers. The Theater was, and still is, one of the main architectural and cultural landmarks in the city.

Construction on the building began in 1903 and its design was largely inspired by the Opera Garnier in Paris. Architect Ramos de Azevedo designed the massive theater with the help of Italian architects Cláudio Rossi and Domiziano Rossi. The theater eventually opened eight years later in 1911, and today is located in the city center, next to the Anhangabaú Valley.

Over the years, some of the 20th century’s most revered performers danced, sang, and played on the Municipal Theater’s stage, such as Duke Ellington, Enrico Caruso, Villa-Lobos, Ella Fitzgerald, Maria Callas, Arturo Toscanini, Arthur Rubinstein, Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, Nijinsky, and others. 

Like many theaters, the Municipal Theater is said to host a number of ghosts in its historic walls. Some employees say they’ve seen lights turn on by themselves, heard the piano play when no one was around, and caught glimpses of figures moving in the dressing rooms or on the stage when the theater has been empty. Many of these supernatural encounters are said to be the spirits of artists who performed on the municipal stage and wander the premises.

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