Rio has a celebrated music scene, with enchanting settings in which to catch live performances, from cutting-edge concert halls to intimate neighborhood venues. Dance, theater, classical concerts and opera also have their small but loyal local followings, while cinema is an even bigger deal – Rio is one of the leading film centers in Latin America.

Live Music

In addition to samba, Rio is a showcase for jazz, bossa nova, Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), rock, hip-hop and fusions of these styles. Brazil's many regional styles – forró (traditional Brazilian music from the Northeast), chorinho (romantic, intimate samba) and pagode (relaxed and rhythmic samba) – are also a part of the music scene.

Venues range from modern concert halls seating thousands to intimate samba clubs in edgy neighborhoods. Antiquated colonial mansions, parks overlooking the city, old-school bars, crumbling buildings at the edge of town and hypermodern lounges facing the ocean are all part of the mix. Rio has a few large concert halls that attract Brazilian stars such as Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento, and well-known international bands visiting Rio on world tours.

Major music festivals include the Rio Music Conference (www.riomusicconference.com.br), held in the Marina da Glória. In addition to established venues, during the summer months concerts sometimes take place on the beaches of Copacabana, Botafogo, Ipanema and Barra da Tijuca.

Dance

Rio has produced a number of successful dance troupes, including the contemporary Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker, which spends much of its time touring abroad. One homegrown talent you might catch in town is the Cia de Dança Dani Lima, an avant-garde troupe that weaves provocative pieces together through dance and aerial gymnastics. Also keep an eye out for the Lapa-based Intrépida Trupe, whose talented acrobat-dancers bring surreal works to the stage.

There is no space dedicated solely to dance; performances can take place at many venues around the city.

Rio's biggest dance festival, Festival Panorama de Dança (www.panoramafestival.com), is held in November. For classical dance, try to see a production by the Ballet do Theatro Municipal, which puts on highly professional performances at Rio's most venerable theater.

Best Dance Venues

  • Ginga Tropical See an amazing range of folkloric dances from across Brazil.
  • Espaço SESC Wide-ranging cultural fare, with global dance groups and plenty of experimentation.

Theater

Brazil has a long history of theater. Literary greats from the 19th century, including the highly imaginative carioca (Rio resident) Joaquim Machado de Assis, lent their vision to the stage. Talents from the 20th century, such as the great Nelson Rodrigues and more recently Gerald Thomas, have kept the flame alive, and you may be able to catch some of their work in Rio's theaters. There are more than two dozen venues in town. Unfortunately, if you don't speak Portuguese, you won't get a lot out of an evening at the theater.

Classical Music

Rio has several symphony orchestras, and irregular appearances are made by chamber groups and soloists. The best new venue is Barra da Tijuca's excellent Cidade das Artes, where the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra plays. Other first-rate places to catch a performance include the Sala Cecília Meireles, which has excellent acoustics, and the magnificent Theatro Municipal. You might also attend a performance at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil or the Fundação Eva Klabin, both of which host orchestral works periodically.

The biggest classical-music festival is Música no Museu, held in museums, churches and cultural centers around town.

Music in the Museum

Classical-music lovers should try to attend a concert held during the ongoing Música No Museu. Held annually over a number of months, this event features dozens of free concerts each month at museums and cultural spaces around the city, including the Museu de Arte Moderna, Museu da República, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil and Parque das Ruínas. Most concerts are held during the day (typically starting some time between noon and 3pm), making them an alternative to the beach if you need a break. Visit the website or pick up a brochure from any tourist office for the current schedule.

Cinema

There's plenty of variety at Rio's many cinemas. The market here is remarkably open to foreign and independent films, documentaries and avant-garde cinema. The latest American blockbusters get ample airtime at movie megaplexes, while cultural centers, museums and old one-screen theaters offer a more diverse repertoire. Films are shown in the original language with Portuguese subtitles. At weekends, popular shows often sell out, so buy your ticket early. Prices range from R$20 to R$34 per ticket, with cheaper matinee prices from Monday to Thursday and the highest prices (and longest lines) from Friday to Sunday.

The Rio film fest is one of the biggest in Latin America; more than 400 films representing 60 countries show at theaters all across Rio, and there are occasional screenings at the Marina da Glória and other open-air spots around town. In past years the two-week festival has attracted more than 300,000 attendees. Although it screens a wide variety of international fare, the festival often sets the stage for the success of Brazilian films aimed at wide release. For more info, visit www.festivaldorio.com.br.

Need to Know

Tickets & Reservations

Listings

  • Visit Rio (www.visit.rio) The city's tourism authority maintains listings of major events.
  • Rio Show (http://rioshow.oglobo.globo.com) Published inside the Friday edition of O Globo newspaper; has extensive listings in Portuguese.
  • Veja (http://veja.abril.com.br)The 'Rio' insert included with this magazine, which comes out on Sunday, is a good (Portuguese only) source of info.