In the old street of shoemakers (nowadays Paz Street) Mr Santiago Sáez built a theatre, and legend has it that it was because at other premises he was refused to reserve a box. The year was 1830 and the new theatre was built in the fashion of the time, in Italian style, halfway between Baroque and Romanticism: stalls and ground-floor boxes, three floors of boxes and a convenient stage for performances, all decorated with frescoes by Parada Justel, now disappeared.
Centre of Ourense’s cultural life but also of the social and politica life, throughout its history the building underwent numerous transformations and refurbishments, such as that undertaken in 1915 to turn it into a cinema, until its closure in 1975. In the 90s the city recovered this space after the major restoration which gave it its current design. Keeping the traditional elements, its dome incorporated frescoes by Xaime Quessada, and its design explains why the peanut gallery is called “the paradise” here.
It is said that the theatre was built by liberal Santiago Sáez, in response to the refusal of reserving him a box from other establishments in the early 19th century Ourense.
Magic of the Circus
The Principal Theatre is closely linked, in the memory of the city, to the traveling circuses that with their shows were the delight of young and old. One of the most famous in Ourense in the first decades of the 20th century was the Circo Feijóo, run by Secundino Feijóo, a native of Vilanova dos Infantes (Celanova). One of its main attractions was Mendoff, the tamer of the beasts, also captain of the cossacks, admired for his bravery and courage. One day a student asked Mendoff for his origins, and he replied, half in secret, that he was from Celanova, as his boss. But of course, it is more interesting to proclaim that the tamer was a fierce Russian.