Angela Peralta Theater events were first performed three years before the “Nightingale of Mexico” arrived to great fanfare in 1883. Before then, it was known as the Rubio Theater and opened in 1881. The acclaimed soprano Angela Peralta was born in Mexico City in 1845 and made her operatic debut in that city at the age of 15. She then went on to study in Italy and to perform in the great opera houses of Rome, Florence, Lisbon, Madrid, St. Petersburg, Alexandria, and Cairo. She returned to Mexico to perform for the Emperor when she was only 22 years of age. She made appearances in New York City and Havana and formed her own touring opera company. In 1883, she embarked on a tour of northern Mexico, where she sang in Guaymas and (for the last time on stage) in La Paz Baja California.
Peralta and her company arrived by boat in the port city of Mazatlan on the 22nd of August. Her adoring fans greeted her at the pier, unhitched the horses from her carriage, and pulled it themselves to her hotel. To their delight, she appeared on the balcony to sing to them. But she would never again perform on stage. Within a few days, she and most of the members of her opera company had succumbed to yellow fever in an epidemic that claimed more than 2,500 lives in Mazatlan.
Peralta was only 38 years old at her death. She lay in state in the city, bedecked in her finest jewels and one of her elaborate opera costumes. Before the death of the “Nightingale,” the Rubio Theater was a splendid Italianate style structure that hosted the most elite performances of the period. After the death of Peralta, it began to decline, hosting boxing matches, vaudeville shows, carnivals, and second-run movies. It was renamed the Angela Peralta Theater in 1943, but its decline continued. In 1985, the city decided to tear it down, but a group of citizens were determined to save the grand old beauty. A concert was presented in what was a virtual ruin in 1987. The proceeds help to restore the building, and it began life anew in 1992. Ever since, it has been the venue for numerous Mazatlan events. It is also possible to tour the building, which is located in the architecturally rich Centro Historico District and only a short walk from the city’s magnificent cathedral.