OPERA HOUSES IN AMERICA
There are currently 125 opera houses in the United States. Although the five most popular venues differ in age and decor, they all are substantial in size and are located in some of the largest cities in America.
When the subject of opera houses comes up, most people are inclined to think about “The Met”– Metropolitan Opera House–in New York City. Founded in the 1880’s, it is located at Lincoln Center and is the oldest and largest opera house in the USA, with 3,800 seats. The Met offers twenty-seven different operas per year and opera greats, Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming are regulars, performing several times a year. The Met was the first to offer individual screens showing English translations at the front of each patron’s seat.
Founded in 1929, the second largest opera house is The Civic, in Chicago. This unique opera house has an art-deco style and is housed in a forty-five story limestone office complex which is shaped like a gigantic chair. The Civic went through a major three-year, one-hundred million dollar remodeling project in 1993, which not only brought it back to it’s original majestic splendor but also updated it in many ways.
The War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco opened in 1932 and has a stately reserved look in keeping with it’s reverent purpose to honor all who served in World War I. The interior is beautiful as well. The main focal point is a chandelier and gilded sculptures which decorate the ornate arch framing the stage. A large storage area behind the main stage makes it possible to see three different operas three nights in a row. Capacity is almost as large as the Civic, with over 3100 seats.
Located on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington D.C., the Opera house at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, opened in 1971 and seats approximately 2,300 people. It features a red and gold silk curtain and a Lobmeyr crystal chandelier which were gifts from Japan and Austria, respectively. The renowned Kennedy Center Honors are held there every year.
Finally, the most modern of the popular opera houses, is the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, which was built in 1998 and is the most spectacular building in downtown Fort Worth. Famous for its outstanding acoustics and unmatched atmosphere, this limestone structure is built in the style of the European opera houses and takes up an entire city block.
From the classic Metropolitan Opera House in New York, to the modern Bass Performance Hall in Texas, there is no lack of exquisite state-of-the-art opera houses in the United States.