The Lethes theatre building may look a little tired on the outside, but don’t let that put you off. Step inside and you will be transported to the latter half of the 19th century. The décor of plush velvet, painted ceiling and exquisite wooden carvings will make you feel as though you are in a bijoux version of a historic Italian opera house. There are four tiers arranged around the intimate auditorium and if you go to a performance here try to get seats in one of the boxes for that once-in-a-lifetime experience. It won’t cost any more than the ordinary seats. The acoustics here are said to be excellent.
The theatre has an interesting history. In 1603 the building was constructed as a Jesuit college. It is said that when the French occupied Faro in 1807 General Junot used the building as a military barracks. Decades later an Italian doctor bought the property at auction with a view to converting it to a hall of entertainment and in April 1845 the theatre opened its doors for the first time.
The theatre gets its name from the River Lethes which in Greek mythology gave all who drank from its waters the healing power of complete forgetfulness (mindlessness) from life’s travails. An inscription on the front of the building reads “Monet Oblectando” which roughly translates as an instruction to “chill and have fun”.
Today the theatre is run by The Algarve Theatre Company who put on a selection of very reasonably priced performances of music and drama.