According to Wikipedia an opera house is defined as ‘”a theatre building used for opera performances, that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building.” An opera house is so much more than the bones of its construction, though.
Opera houses represent a timeless tradition that has existed for centuries… theater. The opera house is home to only the very best of singers, conductors, composers,musicians, stage directors, visual artists, designers, dancers and choreographers all around the world. If you get a coveted booking at an opera house, it is safe to say you have officially “”made it.” The very first opera house appeared in Venice, Italy in the year 1665. Today, an opera house symbolizes prestige and glamour. The United States boasts an incredible 125 opera houses, sprinkled from coast to coast. In this article, we are venturing into the mystery of showbiz and the history of some of the United State’s top opera houses.
Metropolitan Opera House, NYC
Nothing signifies modern and urban vibes quite like the great metropolis that is New York City. It’s only fitting that it is the home to the vibrant structure known as the Metropolitan Opera House. Familiarly referred to as the ‘MET’ , this opera house sits on Broadway in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan’s prestigious Upper East Side. The current MET is actually the second of its creation. The ‘Old Met’ originally sat on Broadway and 39th. It was built in 1883 by a couple of businessmen that just wanted their own private theater. However, it continued to grow and gain a lot of attention. Soon it was deemed inadequate to support its growing tenure. In 1966, the MET was moved to its current location where modern wiring and facilities were now available. The MET is an official member of The National Opera Center America.
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
At first glance of this opera house, you feel transported back to a time where Romans lived. With it’s majestic white pillars and lighting, one can feel the magic oozing from its landscape. Erected in 1931, it became the official home of the San Francisco Opera just one year later. It is also the home to the San Francisco Ballet. The performing arts complex contains four different halls to suit any kind of performance that you could imagine. There’s the warm and inviting Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, the refined elegance of The Green Room, an intimate concert venue called the Herbst Theatre, and the state of the art Harold L. Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall. Let’s not forget about the Veterans Memorial! Opened in 1932, Artist Frank Brangwyn gifted the hall with elaborate murals depicting the four elements to represent the welfare of mankind. On the first floor, you will find a trophy room with mementos from war and historical events.
LA Opera, Los Angeles
The City of Angels is home to many iconic places. From nightclubs, venues, comedy clubs and stadiums, there is so much to discover! It really is no surprise that this city has it’s very own opera house as well! The LA Opera is the fourth largest opera company in the United States. Housed inside the sprawling splendor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The LA Opera has thrived for over three decades. Representing the unique culture embodying the urban creatives of Los Angeles has guaranteed the company a permanent spot among the stars! LA Opera works closely with the local community and finds ways to give back frequently. For two decades the opera house has created outreach and educational programs to make the opera available to children and adults of all cultures and backgrounds. As of 2008 over 159,000 Los Angeles students have benefited from the opera house.
Lyric Opera, Chicago
The Lyric was founded in 1954. It was formed by Carol Fox, Lawrence V. Kelly, and Nicola Rescigno. Carol was left as the general manager after the latter two withdrew from the company. She passed in 1981. Fast forward a few decades and it is clear to see that the Lyric is thriving. Between the years 2014-2015 the opera house presented 69 performances of eight famous operas. The Lyric is a beloved member of their community as well. Formations of High School programs, the Youth Opera Council and the Community Ambassador Program, have ensured that our youth have access to opera and theater. For more information on Lyric Unlimited, a cultural outreach program, click here.
Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
The Bass Performance Hall has quite a unique claim… they are funded entirely by private support. It’s home to the esteemed Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra , Texas Ballet Theater, Fort Worth Opera, Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and the Cliburn Concerts. With so much going on in this opera house, they have managed to coordinate flawlessly, ensuring patrons that they will always get the best that the artists have to offer, every single day. The multipurpose opera hall seats an astounding 2,042 people. Bass Performance Hall’s architecture is in classically elegant European form with an 80 foot diameter dome. The Grand Facade is adorned with two sculpted, Texas limestone Angels, standing at an an incredible 48 feet. The ambiance of the hall is revered for its glamorous simplicity. Incredibly, the hall occupies an entire city block in the historic Sundance Square.
If you ever get a chance to go to an opera, seize it! The experience of a live show in a theater among the world’s most creative artists is definitely one for the bucket list. Check your local listings and grab tickets to La Boheme or Hansel and Gretel as soon as you can! You won’t regret it. If you do find yourself heading to the opera, read this guide first!