Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

Tenerife’s Rival to the Sydney Opera House


As an utter contrast between my last post, about the abandoned goatherd’s cottage, I offer you the totally modern and completely stunning Auditorio de Santa  Cruz de Tenerife Adán Martin.   

The Auditorium dominates the seafront of Santa Cruz, rising, like a powerful wave, curling over the sea wall next to el Castillo de San Juan, where once fortifications stood to repel the British navy. It is graceful, it sparkles in the sunlight or the atmospheric spotlights at night, and it’s a world away from crumbling cottages on a rural hillside.

I’ve never been satisfied with any photos I’ve taken of it, including these.  I suppose that I’m there to enjoy myself, and when a concert is in progress there are all sorts of distractions! I’ve never been around there before with the sole intention of taking photos, and this wasn’t the best time, under a fierce sun, but I had time to spare before an appointment, and nothing better to do, and that old cottage was still very fresh in my mind – I was thinking about the diversity of architecture here.  Could there be two buildings more dissimilar: the cottage tired, dusty and in ruins, and the Auditorio gleaming, sparkling and stylish?

It was designed by the amazing Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava (think the 2004 Olympic stadium in Athens or the new World Trade Center Transport Hub in New York just to name a couple).  His buildings have flowing lines which, for me, put them in harmony with Nature, rather than at odds with it, unlike so many buildings, which thrust aggressively upwards challenging the Earth. It opened, as a performing arts center in 2003.  Until then the island’s culture vultures had struggled with uncomfortable seats and poor acoustics in the Teatro Guimerá, which is a lovely wee theater, whose classic 19th century décor reminds me of the theatres you see in movies set in gold-rush San Francisco, but not really up to modern musical performance.

The Auditorium is home to the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, the annual Heineken Jazz Festival (or some of the festival’s concerts), and an annual, far-too-brief Fall opera season. During the yearly MUMES World Music Festival in August it hosts outdoor concerts on its spacious Plaza Alisios, with stalls around the perimeter offering foods and drinks from different countries. Los Alisios are the trade winds, which brought, over history, so much prosperity to the islands, so meaningful naming.

Since it opened, I’ve seen acts from Youssou N’Dour to Michel Camilo, from Paco de Lucia to Madeleine Peyroux, and there have been so many others I couldn’t afford, and yet loads more that weren’t for me.  The Auditorio is nothing if not versatile and can cater for a huge variety of entertainment. It’s also used for conferences and such like. Even Bill Clinton has spoken from its stage.

Inside it is as striking as outside, with a decent view from every seat, although the stage is an awful long way from the back!  What looks like decorative ceiling can be changed according to the type of acoustics necessary to the type of performance.

Although it’s been around for a few years now its striking lines still wow me, when I arrive in Santa Cruz…….wonder what that goat-herd who occupied the cottage in Vilaflor would have made of it?

Author: IslandMomma

Aging with passion; travelling with curiosity; exploring islandlife, and trying to keep fit and healthy.

4 thoughts on “Tenerife’s Rival to the Sydney Opera House

  1. Beautiful! I’m bummed that I missed seeing this while in Tenerife. I’ll add it to my list of things to see next time :).

    • You must! To see it architecturally or to go to a concert, depending what’s on & what you like. You had such a short time here, and you wrote about it beautifully and intelligently, but there is so much more to see! I went to a festival last night which only happens every 3 years, and I’ve never been before in 24 yrs living here, but it was absolutely fantastic! This island constantly surprises me!

  2. It’s really striking, isn’t it? I was so surprised when I first saw this (and I have to confess, I did wonder quite how the Sydney Opera House was so famous when no-one I knew had ever heard of this place!)

    • Well – you know how many misconceptions there are about Tenerife! People don’t want to know in a way. They have this image, and they can’t be bothered to look further. I don’t deny that the seedy, mindless side of life exists here, but it is so far from being the entire picture that the idea is laughable. Calatrava’s other work seems to get much more publicity than this. The Auditorium is a fabulous place to attend any kind of performance!

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