Academy of Music

Opera Philadelphia presents its Opera at the Academy series at the Academy of Music, located at Broad and Locust Streets in center city Philadelphia.

Owned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and part of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, this magnificent 19th century opera house is the oldest venue in the United States still used for its original purpose.

Since its opening in 1857 the Academy has seen events such as the American premiere of Faust and performances by such legendary figures as Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saëns, Mahler and many others. 1902 saw a series of operas produced by Pietro Mascagni. A 1907 performance of Madama Butterfly starring Caruso and Farrar was attended by Puccini.

A nineteenth century view of the Academy

The demands of operatic scenery were given consideration during the planning phase in 1855 when the architects, LeBrun and Rungé, wrote "The following qualities are absolutely necessary in a perfectly constructed stage:... that we should be able to simultaneously elevate all the scenery entirely above the canopies, to drop it beneath the stage, and to move it horizontally on either side. All these conditions are fulfilled in the construction of our stage, which combines the excellencies of the most celebrated European theatres". Their success was attested to in a review of 1857's Il Trovatore by the New York Tribune"Of all the remarkable things brought to attention by the opening of this new temple of the Muses, the beauty of the scenery attracted the most admiration.... The great height of the stage and the excellent arrangement of the 'flies' added increased charms to this department, the result of which must have been highly gratifying to the artists".

The Academy's acoustics were a prime concern of its architects, who wrote in 1854, "By reference to the sections, it will be observed, that it has been designed in the most approved manner for acoustic effects. The space it occupies is solidly walled in from the foundation up to its floor, and an inverted brick arch would be built along its whole length, against the soil on which it is constructed. Its wooden floor is of slightly convex form, and is proposed to be framed and boarded with white pine, of the lightest scantling, and kept disconnected from any other wood work; in its covering, apertures would be made at intervals; the whole combination being such as to produce the effect of a perfect sounding board".





Balcony Circle

Family Circle