Summary: A crowd gathers in front of the newly renovated Central City Opera House in Central City, Colorado, on opening night. Part of the facade of the granite building is visible, as well as the bracketed balcony, the arched doorways and the billboards for the performance of "Camille" starring Lillian Gish. Iron light fixtures with glass panes hang on opposite side of the doors. - Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library

Central City Opera House

Article used with permission by World Casino Directory, written by Lars Jones

The Central City Opera House has a long and rich history. It was built in 1878 by the local Welsh and Cornish miners with the help of some of the best building professionals in the area, including Denver architect Robert S. Roeschlaub. Unfortunately the mines stopped producing soon after its opening and the building fell into disrepair for several years.

In 1929 the Central City Opera House Association was formed and the venue returned to its former glory by 1932. The grand opening that summer saw Lillian Gish open the Opera House with Camille and today's annual tradition of summertime music festivals was born. The building fell upon hard times again in the 1950's but by the 80's and through the 90's the entire building from top to bottom was restored. The finishing touch happened in 1999 with the replacement of the wooden chairs by modern theater seating. Now people from all over the world enjoy an intimate venue of opera in this 550 seat theater.

The Central City Opera Company is the fifth oldest company in the United States and will celebrate their 80th year of continuous activity in 2012. An organization with such longevity is obviously not stuffy or grave, but dynamic in their activities. The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program is an intense 10 week program that covers every aspect of opera. It has become a national model for such programs. Of the nearly 1,000 applicants each year only 30 - 32 participants are selected. Video of Central City Opera performance

Central City Opera also owns and maintains 28 other historic buildings built before 1900 including 25 residences that are used for housing company operations as well as performers and technicians in the summer. The Teller House, located next door to the Opera House first opened its doors in 1872 and was known as the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. It now hosts opera activities such as receptions and recitals. The Williams Stables building across the street was purchased by the Company in 1953 and is now an intimate 90 seat venue used for short works, rehearsals and pre-performance discussions.

The 2012 festival runs from June 30 to August 12 and will feature Rogers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Puccini's La Boheme, and The Turn of the Screw by Britten. Year-round events include performances in the Denver metro area and a plethora of low-cost educational and entertaining performances and workshops in Central City and Denver.


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