It was built during the Belle Époque at a time when fortunes were made in the rubber boom. Construction of the Amazon Theater was first proposed in 1881 by a member of the House of Representatives, Antonio Jose Fernandes Júnior, the idea being to construct a jewel in the heart of the Amazonian forest and to make Manaus one of the great centers of civilization.
By 1884, construction was ready to begin under the Italian architect Celestial Sacardim who planned for the theatre in the Renaissance style to be state of the art and to include electric lighting.
Work proceeded slowly over the following fifteen years with some stops and re-starts from 1885 to 1892. Roofing tiles came from Alsace while, from Paris, came furniture and furnishings in the style of Louis XV, much from the Koch Fréres company. From Italy came Carrarra marble for the stairs, statues, and columns. Steel walls were ordered from England. The theatre has 198 chandeliers, including 32 of Murano glass. The curtain, with its painting the "Meeting of the Waters" was originally created in Paris by Crispim do Amaral, depicts the junction of the Rio Negro and the Solimões to form the Amazon. On the outside of the building, the dome is covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colors of the national flag.