History of the landmarks of the city of San Luis: the Cinema “Opera”

It had its origins in the Sportman cinemas of Mr. Nadal and in the years 1936 and 1937, Jorge Canta, Jaime Canta and José San Juan, rented “El Ariel”, that is, the Social Club Room that would later become the “Opera” Cinema .

The “Opera” began its first performance on March 17, 1937, with the film “Under two flags” by Cludette Colbert and Ronald Colman, for the full benefit of the Ladies of Charity of San Luis.

Conceived as cinema and theater, the following companies performed in it: Narciso Ibáñez Menta – Pepita Serrador, Berta Singerman Arsino, Mármol Mecha Ortiz, Elsa O. Connor, Fanny Brena. Radio Belgrano Embassy with Fernando Borel and Nelly Omar. Also Lola Menbrives, orchestra led by Francisco Canaro Fumanchú, Compañía de León Zárate, etc.

In 1946 a new “Opera” began, on September 8, 1948; This new cinema opens with the film “Long is the night” by James Mason.

Property of Jorge Canta and José San Juan, the room was the scene of great film premieres until 1980 when it closed its doors. The building would later be reopened by the Italian Society that already had the “Roma” Cinema, to definitively suspend the screenings in the mid-1990s, and years later become the “Golden Palace” Casino.

Jorge Rosales writes, recalling the moments lived in the emblematic cinema: “With an impeccable wicker basket hanging around his neck and walking through the corridors of the room, another endearing inhabitant of the ‘Opera’ was Don Carlos Mini. The remembered caramelero –also named ‘chocolatinero’- made his star appearance before the start of the show, or during the interval. With his pocket torch, the usher was in charge of accompanying the viewer to his location in one of the 1,300 seats in the cinema, says Juan ‘Bochi’ Mini, Carlos’ son. And who sometimes, while still a child, offered to fulfill this task, hoping to collect a few coins as a tip ”.

“Wall through the back of the upper stalls, where at one time seating planks had to be placed due to the damage caused by the attendees, was the projection booth. Ambrosio Gómez, one of the former operators, entered there early to prepare the tapes and machines to start the function. The films of Randolph Scott or Cantinflas (still in black and white) were among those that attracted the largest number of audiences. In the same way, when the billboard was occupied by a suggestive Isabel Sarli, who made any adolescent lose their minds and documents that could not prove they were 18 years old ”.

Under this excuse they sought to evade the requirement of being of legal age, without knowing that the municipal inspector of Shows, Ramón Brogliere, was waiting for them at the entrance. “On what date were you born?” He would ask them suddenly to leave the youngsters typing, and with no other choice but to resign himself to returning to the matinee on Saturday. Cinema at last, it was not necessary to wait for the premiere of a new Batman sequel, for the bats to make their usual walks inside the enclosure. It was customary to surprise some of the porters -the “Cantinflas”, the “Pocholo” or the “Gallina” Puertas-, in a strenuous fight against the vermin with clean brooms.

“When ‘Opera’ closed in 1990, there were no more superheroes, ushers, or candy makers. Don Catutti, who had a flower shop in the same building, had also left a long time ago. The place looked deserted and abandoned, devoid of all magic and fantasy. Sad sign that the show was finally over ”, concludes Jorge Rosales.

Note: Press Culture Program.

Source: Inbicible.blogspot and book “Sembradores” by María Esther Rosales de Orozco.

Photos: Kindness.