Mazatlan Stories

Angela Peralta Theater History

Mazatlan had other theaters in the past, namely Teatro Alegria and TeatroPrincipal.

During those years, the teatro El Recreo was in operation.

Watercolor of Teatro Alegria by William H. Meyers in 1843,

Possibly the oldest icon piece on the theatrical infrastructure in Sinaloa and maybe the whole Northwest  Mexico

During August 1869, Manuel Rubio , a local businessman,

proposed to the city council the construction of a theater for the city.

The intention of Rubio was to offer the mazatlecos a cultural space that matched their recently acquired importance in politics and commerce.

Moreover,Mazatlan was the State’s capital and main economic center in western Mexico.

That same year, construction started under the direction of LibradoTapia, the city’s engineer

The theater was inaugurated on

 February 15, 1874,

 even though the ironwork at the balconies

wasn’t finished.

The inaugural play was

“La Campana de Almudaina”,

drama in three acts from  Juan Palou y Colland 

 “La Casa de Campo”

 comedy in one act by José Sánchez Albarral

Played by the Spanish Theater company of Mariano Luque


A Nightingale in Mazatlan

Angela Peralta and her Opera company  arrived at Mazatlan on August 22, 1883. She was coming from  Guaymas, Sonora and La Paz, Baja California, where she sang, in improvised theaters at internal patios, the Opera Maria di  Rohan.

She was greeted at the dock yard, next to the Customs House, where a band played our National Anthem. As she boarded a carriage, a group of excited fans removed the horses and pulled it until they reached the Hotel Iturbide, followed by musicians and an excited crowd.

Once at the hotel, she came out to the balcony and greeted the crowd outside of the building.

According to local oral tradition she sang “La Paloma”  a popular Cuban Song, composed by Iradier, the  favorite song of Empress Carlota.

As Manuel Rubio was heading to San Francisco  to purchase decoration for the theater,

 his ship, El Continental, capsized on October 1870, killing many passengers, including Mr. Rubio


He could not see his work concluded, but his widow ,Doña Vicenta Unzueta, continued its construction.


The Orfeon Angela Peralta Company:

local artists directed byFrancisco Martínez Cabrera and Adolfo Wilhelmy.

Back row, right to left, the first is Don Ricardo Lorda Fernández  de la Riva.

The third is Don Ernesto Lorda Fernández de la Riva .

Maestro Francisco Martínez Cabrera,  unmistakable , at center of the first row.


Maria Teresa Montoya 

on stage at the Teatro Rubio.

Public view at the Teatro Rubio during

the role of Maria Teresa Montoya benefit.

The Era of Splendor ends with the frustrated presentation of Angela Peraltawho never performed in MazatlanPerhaps, it is then that the Teatro Rubio initiates its long decline.

Until 1940, TeatroRubio was a stage for all type of events: operas, zarzuelas, dramas, civic acts, circus presentations, box and wrestling matches .

During this period the theater  is home to carnaval –carnival-events. In 1943 its name changes from Teatro Rubio to Cinema Angela Peralta, which functioned until 1964.

After that, the building closed for a period of five years. Abandoned and in decay it hosted a burlesque event during the 1969 Carnival


Since then, it remained practically abandoned


Local Architect  Juan José León Loya,

 a member of the Amigos Asociation,

was the specialist who designed the project that would reconstruct the theater.

 The reconstruction works started in 1987, and concluded five years later.

For the quality of its proposal and feasibility of the project (which ended crystallized in 1992)
Loya was awarded by the Federation of Architects of Mexico 

at the Second Biennial of Architecture.

Steelwork was reproduced according to the era and three quarters of the original parts were used.

In 1975, Hurricane “Olivia” reached Mazatlan

and it caused a near total structural destruction, especially all wooden parts,

 beams and columns

But this didn’t happen thanks to a group of notable mazatlecos

who made their mission the rescue of the theater.That is when the group

 Amigos del TeatroAngela Peralta was born.

This group finally brought the ruin into life by opening it to the public

and staging the first cultural festival of Sinaloa.

The very first cultural festival that was verified in this theater happened with bare sky under the big ficus tree. There was a rustic boarding built to accompany a piano, a pianist and the soprano, Gilda Cruz Romo. As she sang her recital of romantic Mexican songs, a full moon came out from behind the crumbled wall and came rising like a silver dove along the branches of the big ficus, as the recital finished, it reached the clear and starry sky filling with its moonshine the last corner of the theater. That occasion Gilda sang well, the moon overacted. Four more festivals were done under the open sky... Antonio Haas

So under construction, has now remained home to the last four festivals and most cultural events in the city. Mazatlecos  thank the governor Lic. Francisco la Bastida Ochoa and Jose Angel Pescador, then the city mayor.

As of this date, this beautiful and historic building is the venue for numerous artistic and cultural events, such as the Jose Limon festival which takes place during April.

Another such events are the Festival Sinaloa de las Artes and the  Festival Cultural de Mazatlánstarting, respectively, in October and mid-November.

                                                   Cultural events are spread through the year.


as member of the Sociedad de Amigos del Teatro Ángela Peralta,

Mr. Antonio Haas Espinoza de los Monteros

became the most solid member and enthusiastic promoter of the reconstruction

of this jewel of Sinaloa Culture in Mazatlan.

The existence of this theater, one of the most beautiful and authentic in Mexico,

 is linked to an obsession and perseverance of this Mazatlan writer.

the restauration of the Teatro Ángela Peralta, which remained a ruin for decades,

 was promoted by the group Amigos del Teatro Ángela Peralta, A.C .

Together with local Government, the Amigos del Teatro Angela Peralta and several State and federal institutions, the  reconstruction was possible and is now the heart of Mazatlan’s historical downtown.

The external facade has two stories, the lower part with a foyer sustained by columns.

The second level shows an elegant ironwork and rectangular windows decorated with vegetable relief


Upon entering , as is typical of such 19th century Buildings, one arrives at an open patio, adorned with rich neoclassical ornaments.

Its curved balconied are a fantastic display of the ironwork


On December 19, 1990

by presidential decree, the Teatro Ángela Peralta was  declared National Heritage,

and was inaugurated by  President Carlos Salinas de Gortari on October 23, 1992  

Thank you to 
Manuel Gómez Rubio and my granddaughter Rosa Fernanda Gama Burgueño
that helped translate this text


Archivo municipal


Manuel Gomez Rubio

peche Rice

Gustavo Gama Olmos


Gustavo Gama Olmos

recuperado 20/09/2013



Doña Vicenta Unzueta de Rubio, was forced, only three years after the theater’s inauguration, to sell it.

The theater as well as the Hotel Iturbide were acquired by Juan Bautista Hernándeza partner  of 

the Spanish firm Hernández Mendía y Asociados, which had  significant investments in Mazatlan.

Between 1879 and 1881

the theater underwent important modifications that led to the elegant building that one appreciates today. Local architect Santiago Leon Astengo was in charge of remodeling windows, doors and balconies, as well as other key details.

Juan Gomez, a painter, was in charge of selecting the scenography as well as decorative details. At last, displaying the latest advances of the era and 1366 seats, the theater was officially inaugurated on February 6th, 1881. This was to be the second inauguration, but now fully furnished. For this occasion the young women choir of Maestro Manuel Cataño offered a concert.

After a few years, the building turned into a ruin: it lost its roof and some walls

and there was even a large “Ficus” tree that grew right on the stage.

 Its aspect was shameful, an unpardonable insult to a building that was once called the palace of the arts.

For that reason, local government decides, in 1985, to destroy it.


María de los Angeles Manuela Tranquilina Cirila Efrena Peralta y Castera 

Died on  August 30  1883

 ( you can see this image in Antonio Lopez Saenz’s oil painting which hangs at Restaurant Pedro y Lola )

On the next day, August 23rd

 the opera company performed  the opera “ IL Trovatore” by Giuseppe Verdi, in which the tenor Fausto Belloti made his debut, in front of an almost empty theater since there were rumors of the spreading of the yellow fever


August 24th,

Ángela Peralta directed the rehearsal for the Opera Aida, with which she would debut given that both directors, Ballot and Chavez Aparicio fell ill.The presentation should have been confirmed that same night, but it was postponed as late in the day, the majority of the company members had fallen sick.

At dawn, on the 25th of August

 Bellotti, Aparicio, as well as other artists  died . The deadly disease killed fifteen of the thirty eight company members and among the survivors were the Soprano Zopilli, and the contrabass Miss Saborini.