The Teatro Municipal is the most important stage theatre and opera house in Santiago, Chile. The Chilean government ceded a significant parcel of land in downtown Santiago to the municipality, in 1848, and an 1853 decree by President Manuel Montt Torres provided for the construction of a municipal theater in his nation's capital, by then a rapidly-growing city.
The Teatro Municipal was inaugurated on September 17, 1857, with the opera Ernani by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by an Italian company brought in specially for the occasion. At the time, the theatre held 1,800 spectators, and included distinctive interior details such as a teardrop crystal chandelier. A December 8, 1870, performance by opera diva Carlotta Patti was followed by a massive fire, which practically destroyed the building. A quick response by both the local government and Chilean high society resulted in the theatre's prompt reconstruction, designed by Henault and completed on July 16, 1873.