After the demolition of the Teatro Grande in 1833, madeirans began to revoke the construction of a new theater in the city of Funchal.

On February 9th 1882, the Funchal City Council finally made the decision to build a theater on the grounds of the old and extinct market of São João. The project of the Oporto architect Tomás Augusto Soler was chosen. However, with his early death in 1883, the project was delivered to his fellow countryman José Macedo de Araújo Júnior, although it is not known if there were changes in relation to the initial project. The theater follows the typically Italian model, following the prototype of the Teatro de São Carlos in Lisbon and the Teatro La Scala in Milan.

João Sauvair da Câmara, as mayor of Funchal, began construction works of the new Theater, having the symbolic act of the launching of the first stone occurred on October 24th 1884, with the presence of a lot of public and three musical bands that by playing in the Municipal Garden.

To help with construction, which required competence and specialized professionals, it was necessary to hire the Master of Works Manuel Francisco Pereira. Italian architect and set designer Luigi Manini, accompanied by Portuguese Eugénio Cotrim, were in charge of decorations and scenography.

On July 29th 1887, the construction work of the new theater was completed. There was then a first contact with the public, and the city appeared enthusiastic. The theater was officially open on March 11th 1888, with the exhibition of the zarzuela “Las dos Princesas”, of the Spanish company of José Zamorano, coming from the nearby Canaries.

The denomination of our theater underwent, in its early stages some modifications. First, as a form of tribute to the Queen, it was decided to give her name “D. Maria Pia” to the theater. As a result of the events of the Republican revolution, the City Council understood that the Queen’s name was no longer harmonious with the new regime, and in November 1910 changed its designation to “Dr. Manuel de Arriaga”. The attribution of the name in honor of the deputy of Madeira and first president-elect of the Portuguese Republic was not accepted by him, who permanently refused this gesture. The theater then strated, from January 12th 1912, to be called “Teatro Funchalense”. The turning point in its denomination occurred at the time of the death of Manuel de Arriaga in 1917, and his returned to the theater.

During 1935, when the city hall was chaired by Dr. Fernão de Ornelas, that he decided to change the name to Baltazar Dias, in honor of the great playwrighter and blind poet, born in Madeira and a fundamental reference of the theatrical Portuguese panorama. The name remains until today, in a space that since its inauguration, has been presenting our city with an unparalleled architectural beauty and with activities and shows that make it the greatest milestone of cultural experience in Madeira.

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Who was Baltazar Dias

The theatre owes its name to the blind poet of Madeira, playwright of the second half of 21st Century, whose works have been represented in popular European acts, in Africa and in Brazil.

The novels of Baltazar Dias, belong to a community of poetic traditions, linked to the history of European lyric poetry. He is regarded as the “nationalizer of the European novels”. The poet requested King D. João III, the privilege to be the only one who could print and sell his works. It is uncertain how many years he lived in Lisbon, but it is believed that in his late years he lived in Beira.


His work was divided in acts, novels and ballads:

  • Auto Breve da Paixão de Cristo – 1613 (Brief Act of the Passion of Christ)
  • Auto da Malícia das Mulheres – 1640 (Act of the Women’s Malice)
  • História da Imperatriz Porcina – 1660 (The story of the Empress Porcina)
  • Auto do Nascimento (Birth Act)
  • Auto de Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine’s Act)
  • Auto de Santo Aleixo (Saint Alexius’ Act)
  • A Tragédia do Marquês de Mântua (The Tragedy of the Marquis of Mantua)
  • Conselhos Para Bem Casar ( Advices to a Good Marriage)

Mission and Vision

Under the responsibility of Funchal City Hall, the Baltazar Dias Theatre is part of the social and cultural panorama of Funchal, as one of the most emblematic Show Houses and an institution that seeks to promote and enhance the local cultural offer.

In respect to its institutional nature, the Theatre’s mission is to support and boost the creation and cultural production, providing the necessary conditions for its maintenance, from technical and professional works, to structural and material resources, with the sole purpose of offering an activity and performances with quality recognized by the audience.

As a cultural institution of great importance to our region, the vision of the Baltazar Dias Theatre goes beyond offering shows, seeking to present itself to its audience as a cultural organism open to changes, innovation and creativity.