If you've come from Barcelona, this extraordinary facade built in 1901 by architects Alfredo Acebal and Jean Baptiste Darroquy may seem familiar. The wild Modernista (Art Nouveau) excitement of the intensely ornate circular arch—nearly plateresque in its intricate decorative detail—is a marked contrast to the more sober Bilbao interpretation of the turn-of-the-20th-century Art Nouveau euphoria. Predictably, bilbainos don't think very highly of this—to the
Basque eye—exaggerated ornamentation. The theater is called Campos Elíseos after Paris's Champs-Elysées (a brief spasm of Francophilia in a town of Anglophiles), as this area of town was a favorite for early-20th-century promenades. During most of the 20th century Bilbao's theatrical life had two poles: the Casco Viejo's Teatro Arriaga and the Ensanche's Campos Elíseos. Known as la bombonera de Bertendona (the candy box of Bertendona) for its intimate and vertical distribution of stage and boxes, the 742-seat theater was restored and reopened for performances in 2010.