From the history of Sauto much will still have to be discovered because, beyond its enhancement as one of the best achieved expressions of the neoclassical movement in Cuba and the charm that has captivated the place to the spectral figures of the French actress Sara Bernhardt and the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova, the exalted Cuban musicians Bola de Nieve and Ernesto Lecuona (who premiered La comparsa on her stage), Mario Benedetti and Adelaida Rístori, Sauto keeps impressive mysteries and scoops.
AGGREGATED VALUES OF A UNIQUE THEATER When the mechanism of the movement of the platea came back to work and rose 81 centimeters, after more than 50 years, was one of the most special moments of the restoration process that the Sauto theater lived.
In order to undertake these actions, the engineers first reviewed the structural conditions of the complex structure and verified that they were in perfect condition, so that it was capable of raising close to five tons.
This fact, in addition to mean an added value for the property, declared a National Monument in 1978, makes it the only theater in Cuba and part of the world capable of such technical feat, with the aim of celebrating danzón dances, after its reopening.
This is just an example of the intention to seek a balanced relationship between the past and the future of the institution, the originality of its heritage values and a necessary touch of modernity, during the integral rehabilitation of Sauto.
To that end, the building adopts innovative concepts that will return it, not only as a scenic space, but as a cultural historical complex where visitors will find a door open to their heritage.
SAUTO THEATHER, HERITAGE OF HUMANITY?
Classic, majestic and stately, the once Esteban is slowly approaching the dream of becoming the first institution of its kind internationally to be declared a World Heritage Site.
“This declaration would be particularly important because it would imply greater attention to theater, both by the Cuban authorities and by UNESCO. Its relevance will increase and it will be a pride for the current generations, those that are to come and, above all, a tribute to those who are no longer among us “, said Raúl Toboso Monagas, specialist in history and conservation.
The difficulties for the conformation of the file increased because there are no precedents regarding the declaration of a theater worldwide. Other properties of this type in the world have acquired the nomination, but as part of a population or geographic area, never because of their own characteristics and particularities.
The qualities of architecture, acoustics and the intangible heritage of this Matanzas coliseum, opened for the first time in 1863, will add spaces of interaction with riches that will enhance its importance, said Kalec Acosta Hurtado, director of the neoclassical building in Matanzas.
“The institution will offer a series of tours through its own localities where the town will visit from the theater’s attic to the pit, including the machinery that goes up and down the stalls, unique in Latin America. It is not only conceived as spaces for artistic presentations, but as a museum center.
” The existing spaces in the institution, added Acosta Hurtado, will now acquire other values of use that will contribute to a greater approach between visitors and the history, not only of the institution, but also of the national and foreign culture.
“In the Hall of Mirrors will work an alternative room, we have an Information and Documentation Center where the scores, programs, posters, the book of artists and visitors are collected during these 156 years.”
Through the reopening of the Hall of Fame, the spectators will be able to meet the most renowned artists who have climbed the Sauto stage.This will also expose objects that once served and today are part of the tangible heritage of the institution, located in the Plaza de la Vigía. “Our goal is that the theater serves as a reference to visitors, Cubans or foreigners, and that it becomes one of the biggest attractions of Matanzas city.
“With this purpose we group and restore interesting pieces that will integrate the rooms of this museum-theater,” added Leonel Pérez Orozco, Curator of the City of Matanzas.
Among the objects mentioned by the historian also include televisions, radios, sewing machines, dated between the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and a printing press that works as in its early years.
“The printing press is an interesting object that we managed to rescue from the ruins of an old building on Medio Street. It is completely restored, this will allow us to ensure at least 50 percent of the bulletin prints, invitations and outreach material we need, “the Conservator warned.
The pieces will be located in correspondence with its utility. “The typewriters are around fourteen or fifteen, framed among the nineteenth century until the mid-50s. In each of them we can recognize the technical-constructive evolution of the element that has been in service almost until today.
” The sewing machines, on the other hand, “cover the period between the ends of the 19th century until the beginning of the 40s of the 20th century and are in perfect condition.
“We have a collection of phonographs released to the market between 1905 and 1928, televisions from 1950 to 1956 and radios dated between the years 30 and 50, which will also offer an overview of their development
.” Fountain pens and telephones also swell the list of objects that the public will observe working. The conservation team also restored a nineteenth-century harmonium, a musical instrument whose operation is very complex.
“It’s a kind of organ or a giant philharmonic that was in the Cathedral of Matanzas since the nineteenth century. After months of study and work, we see that he works very well. ”
It is of great interest the collection of music that is hoarded in the Sauto Documentation Center, “which includes more than a thousand acetate discs. The music collected ranges from the early twentieth century to the 80s when it stopped recording in that format and national and international artists.
” In the attic the original construction elements found during the restoration will be shown, while in the niches of the theater the public will be able to observe the metallic coffin of Ambrosio Sauto, executor of the construction of the building.
Each of these elements is endorsed in the application file for the declaration of Sauto as Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This document also explains the geographical location of the building, the architect who carried out the project, the date in which it was implemented, the style and techniques used during its construction, unique in the world.
For Orozco, the most important thing is to give each one of these collections its social function. “Other objects that we have reconstructed have been furniture, documents. We have tried, in addition to knowing the characteristics of those objects that visitors see them working already exposed in the theater and know that they can still provide excellent services.
“It is not only to show the cold element, it is also that the person can be aware of the evolution suffered by that tool of work or office, means of information or distraction, in the course of time.”
The historical pieces treasured by the cultural center are kept “under strict custody, papered and kept, to protect them from dust. With some frequency we take them out, in the case of documents we give air and clean the ornaments. We keep them all in protected places so that they do not suffer any accidents.
“Highlights include French porcelain vases, marble vases, table lamps, wall lamps, original furniture from the 19th century, paintings, French lithographs, Sauto’s mirror, scribes, glass inkwells, programs and invitations,” Toboso Monagas emphasized.
Once again the Sauto surprises, revives and further away from the shadows and silence that covered him for almost a decade. After the faint sound of hundred-year-old machinery, the Matanzas once again feels the hope beating in the face of the imminent news of its reopening.
• Photos of the author