The premiere facility for top-notch performances in Puerto Rico is, without a doubt, the Luis A, Ferré Performing Arts Center, better know among the locals as the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A Ferré, or simply “Bellas Artes” for short.
It was inaugurated in 1981 by governor Carlos Romero Barceló as a part of a very clever complex that also includes the Minillas Government Center, the Minillas tunnel, an adjacent parking structure, and a section of the Román Baldorioty de Castro Expressway. Today there’s an underground parking facility under the center and the expressway runs underneath it all forming the Minillas Tunnel.
The Luis A, Ferré Performing Arts Center has four performance halls: Antonio Paoli Festival Hall, dedicated to the world-renowned Puerto Rican tenor; René Marqués Theater Hall, dedicated to one of Puerto Rico’s most famous playwrights and essayists; Carlos Marichal Performance Hall, dedicated to one of the Island’s most talented costume designers; and Sala Sinfonica Pablo Casals, dedicated to the famous Catalan chelo virtuoso who was instrumental in founding the Island’s Symphony Orchestra as well as the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music.
There is also a small café named after Sylvia Rexach, one of the Island’s most famous composers and singers and a beautiful square named after Juan Morell Campos, the Island’s most famous “danza” composer. The square has statues, fountains, beautiful landscaping and can be used for outdoor events of up to 800 participants.
Among the many international and local figures that have graced the “Bellas Artes” stages and that I have actually witnessed are Plácido Domingo, Joan Manuel Serrat, Rafael Martos, Pinchas Zukerman, I Musici, John Williams, Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman Julian Bream, Billy Tailor, Alberto Cortés, Inti Ilimani, Facundo Cabral, Danny Rivera, Antonio Cabán Vale, Lucesita Benítez, and hundreds, maybe even thousands more.
One of the aspects that performers from all corners of the world have praised the most about these facilities has been the acoustics, which many have described as “perfect”.