Built in 1860 as the first Western-style theatre in all of China, the Dom Pedro V Theatre has since served as a performing venue for music, dance and various other kinds of performances. In addition to a theatre, the structure once also housed a ball room, a reading room and a billiard parlour, making it a venue of central importance for the Macanese community at the time. The Theatre was also rented out to local businessmen in the past, for the showing of films, which led to the establishment of the “Macao Cinema for Distinguished Films”. For this reason, the Dom Pedro V Theatre is also known in everyday Chinese as the “Macao Theatre”.
With an exquisite and refined architectural and decorative design, the Dom Pedro V Theatre emanates a strong romantic flavour. Its neoclassical style not only embodies the splendid characteristics of the European theatres of the time, it also integrates beautifully into the Macao environment. White cornice and architrave mouldings define spaces on the sage green exterior walls, which feature doors and shutters in dark green, all housed under a terracotta roof. This contrasting colour palette stands out against the blocks of yellow buildings on Largo de Santo Agostinho, yet it strikes a harmonious chord with its surroundings. The Theatre contains a vestibule boasting an ancient crystal chandelier, which adds an immensely rich artistic ambience and even a sense of mystery to the interior. The performance hall is comfortable and spacious, with a capacity of 276 seats arranged in curved rows. A staircase located at the end of a long side corridor leads up to the semi-circular balcony seating area.
Having spent over a century in vivid use by the Macao community, the Dom Pedro V Theatre is now one of the important historic buildings in the Historic Centre of Macao ensemble inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The Theatre has survived as a witness to the bygone leisure and entertainment activities of the Macanese community and today remains a tremendously refined and distinctive performing venue for culture and arts, staying true to its traditional function and historic legacy. It stands as one of the most important and enduring testimonies to the development of Macao’s performing arts.