The 1844 Teatro Victoria in Valparaiso, Chile, can be considered the first purpose-built opera house in the Andean region of the Americas. Managed by impresario Pietro Alessandri, it became the centre of an early operatic scene in the South Pacific and a model for theatres built during the following decades. In this article, I discuss the Teatro Victoria as an opera house and the way in which it functioned on the borders of what was then a new global operatic scene. Latin American research on opera has focused mostly on singers and performances, rather than on the workings of the opera houses and the operatic scene. This article discusses the rationale behind the development of the Teatro Victoria project, some of the strategies underpinning its success and the notion of this particular opera house as a projection of certain ideas of ‘Italian culture’ and networks. The article shows, first, that the successful reception and appropriation of Italian opera in this period was not necessarily guaranteed, and it differed across the Americas. Second, that local brokers and host communities had key roles in shaping that reception, which can easily be perceived as a passive one when looked at only from the perspective of the singers or the music itself.