World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Civic Opera House (Chicago)

Article Id: WHEBN0008380506
Reproduction Date:

Title: Civic Opera House (Chicago)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chicago Landmarks, Pittsfield Building, Powhatan Apartments, 35 East Wacker, Old Colony Building (Chicago)
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Civic Opera House (Chicago)

Exterior of the Civic Opera House
Front Sign of the Civic Opera House
Sculpture by Henry Hering

The Civic Opera House is an opera house located at 20 North Wacker Drive in Chicago. It is part of a building which contains a 45-story office tower and two 22-story wings, known as the Civic Opera Building. This structure opened on November 4, 1929 and has an Art Deco interior.

The Civic Opera House has 3,563 seats, making it the second-largest opera auditorium in North America. Built for the Chicago Civic Opera, today it is the permanent home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

History

Samuel Insull envisioned and hired the design team for building a new opera house to serve as the home for the Chicago Civic Opera. The building has been seen as being shaped like a huge chair and is sometimes referred to as "Insull's Throne."

Insull selected the architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White who were responsible for several other buildings in the downtown Chicago Loop. As they did on other occasions, the architects commissioned Henry Hering to produce architectural sculpture for the building.

The inaugural season was marked by the première of Camille, a modern opera by 28-year old Chicago-composer Hamilton Forrest on July 15, 1929. It was commissioned by the Civic Opera's prime star and manager, Mary Garden. While the opera received mixed reviews and parts of it were broadcast in the Boston area, the Civic Opera is the only house in which it has ever been performed.[1]

The opera house underwent a major renovation in 1993 when it was purchased by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which had previously rented the space. The chairs were repainted and reupholstered, the carpeting replaced, and the gilt paint completely re-stenciled. The massive project was completed in 1996.

This opera house was the inspiration for the one featured in Orson Welles's film, Citizen Kane. In order for his aspiring opera singer wife to perform, Charles Foster Kane builds an opera house for her, but the quality of her singing reveals her ineptitude. The urban legend is that Samuel Insull built this opera house for his wife, who was not hired by New York's Metropolitan Opera. Variations of this urban legend also often cite that the "chair" represented by the building's architecture faces West, which was intended to be symbolic of Insull turning his back to New York City's Metropolitan Opera from the geographic standpoint of Chicago. The fact, however, is that Samuel Insull's wife was not an opera singer. A variation on this theme is that it was Insull's daughter who wasn't hired--the problem with this variation is that Insull had no daughters.

See also

Civic Opera Building

References

Notes

  1. ^ Pearson, "The Other Traviata: Hamilton Forrest's Camille"

Sources

  • Chappell, Sally Kitt, Transforming Tradition: Architecture and Planning of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, 1912–1936, Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press, 1992
  • Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Architectural Sculpture in America, unpublished manuscript
  • Pearson, Edward Hagelin, "Camille: Hamilton Forrest's Traviata, "The Other in The Opera Quarterly, 1995 on oxfordjournals.org

External links

  • Civic Opera House website
  • Lyric Opera website
  • , February 1930, pp 202-205Popular Mechanics"The Magic Wand of the Opera" technical details of the 1929 advances Civic Opera House over other opera houses of that era - i.e. curtains, back-drops, movable stages, lighting, etc
  • Chicago landmarks web site with photos of the building

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.