Much of the wealth of Manaus came from its days as the region's major port city during the rubber boom. That era was also known for its beautiful architecture - and a fine example of that Belle Epoque style of the late 1800s is Manaus' opera house, the Teatro Amazonas.
The Teatro Amazonas was built between 1884 and 1896 and is a showcase of furnishings imported from far-off places like France and Italy, including nearly 200 Italian chandeliers and a painted curtain from Paris. The opera house's incredible dome is covered with 36,000 tiles painted in the colors of the Brazilian flag. The first ever performance in the Teatro Amazonas was the opera "La Gioconda" in January of 1897.
When the rubber boom dwindled, the theater lost its wealthy patrons and actually shut down for 90 years. In 2001 the government invested millions in renovations, and today the 700-seat Teatro Amazonas is home to the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra and an annual Amazonas Opera Festival. It is on the San Sebastian Square (Praça São Sebastião) in downtown Manaus, and visitors can either go on a guided tour of the theater when it's not in use, or consult the schedule to check out one of the many free performances.