Sunday, September 4, 2011

Will There Be Opera at the Peabody Opera House of St. Louis?

The Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, Missouri, was originally opened in 1934 as the Kiel Opera House and hosted performances by The Rat Pack, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen. The 3,100-seat theater closed in 1991. It was only three years ago that planners began work on a $78.8 million renovation project to revive the space. On October 1, the historic auditorium (minted with a new name compliments of Peabody Energy) will hold its re-opening night event called "An Encore 77 Years in the Making" featuring Aretha Franklin and Jay Leno. But will there be any opera performances taking place at the Peabody Opera House? According to John Urban (executive vice president for events and new business at Sport Capital Partners Worldwide), "We've met with quite a few including the St. Louis Symphony, Dance St. Louis, Opera Theatre, Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Actors Studio," he said, and "already have some tentative plans and dates on hold." Looking at the calendar of events for the 2011-12 season one can see Roger Daltry performing Tommy, concerts by Widespread Panic and Wilco, family events with themes of Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street, a touring production of Green Day's American Idiot and a "Homecoming Comedy Jam" featuring Cedric the Entertainer on New Year's Eve. Read a full article about the detailed craftsmanship that went into restoring this historical venue by clicking here. Once upon a time, the Metropolitan Opera toured the United States and the original Kiel Opera House was the venue for a series of
The new Peabody Opera House lobby.
performances in May 1952 that included Aida (Zinka Milanov, Mario del Monaco, Blanche Thebom, Jerome Hines, Lucine Amara; Fausto Cleva), Carmen (Risë Stevens, Ramon Vinay, Nadine Conner, Frank Guarrera; Fritz Reiner), La Bohème (Eleanor Steber, Richard Tucker, Anne Bollinger, Frank Valentino; Alberto Erede) and La Traviata (Dorothy Kirsten, Jan Peerce, Leonard Warren; Fausto Cleva). The company returned to perform Samson and Dalila (Risë Stevens, Mario del Monaco, Martial Singher; Fausto Cleva) in May 1958, Aida (Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli, Irene Dalis, Robert Merrill, Ezio Flagello; Nino Verchi) and La Bohème (Dorothy Kirsten, Jan Peerce, Laurel Hurley, Lorenzo Testi; Thomas Schippers) both in May 1961. But who knows, maybe one day Phantom of the Opera will be the closest thing Peabody Opera House gets to hosting anything operatic and don't worry about the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis because it seems they are just fine in their home. [Source, Source, Source, Source]

Watch a local news channel discuss the renovation, during its beginning stages, after the jump.