The commune was founded in 1856 by German immigrants, as part of a Chilean government-sanctioned settlement program. These new Teutonic arrivals cheerfully compared Lake Llaniquihue to Lake Geneva, and its snow-capped volcanoes to the Alps. Then, they built a quaint Germanic-style village perfectly framed by the dramatic scene.
Hearty travelers have made their way to this remote spot for decades, to hike, boat, and visit the Museo Colonial Aleman (German Colonial Museum). Today, however, Frutilla’s top attraction is the Teatro del Lago (Theater of the Lake), which offers outstanding entertainment year-round, most famously Semanas Musicales (Musical Weeks), a ten-day classical music festival held in January and February, featuring some 40 performances by Chilean and international artists. Though the popular event dates to 1968, the new venue makes it that much more spectacular.
The Teatro del Lago just celebrated its first anniversary as the newest, most modern, and most acoustically perfect entertainment venue in South America—and that’s not even mentioning the spectacular lake views. The 2011–2012 schedule includes the first Patagonia International Jazz Festival, Helmuth Rilling and the Stuttgart International Bach Academy, and more than 180 other performances.
Though the theater was only recently finished, it has been hosting performances almost weekly for years on the picturesque platform overlooking the lake. Under construction for 12 years, the theater was designed in Germany to take full advantage of the outstanding location, using only private donations (hence the name of the 1200-seat main hall, Espacio-Sala Tronador Nestlé). The acoustics are flawless, and view over the ice-blue lake and Patagonia’s snowcapped volcanoes outstanding. Teatro del Lago, which is complimented by one of South America’s top music schools, is also more than just a theater. Music seminars, gallery shows, films, and other cultural events fill the schedule year-round.