DERBY, CT – Opera house hopes to bring the magic back

Opera house hopes to bring the magic back
By Anne M. Amato | Friday, February 1, 2013
From the

“DERBY — Standing on stage at the historic Sterling Opera House, you can almost hear legendary actor Lionel Barrymore and famed tenor Enrico Caruso taking advantage of the acoustics.

You can picture guest lecturer Amelia Earhart speaking to the Derby Women’s Club about aviation. You can see Harry Houdini, the master escape artist, mesmerizing the crowd.

“We’re standing on top of the trap door they built for his act,” Mayor Anthony Staffieri said during a recent tour of the Elizabeth Street icon, which served as City Hall and headquarters for the Police and Fire departments at one time. “There’s so much history here. It would have been a shame to have lost it.”

Left vacant and neglected for decades, the building could have met a wrecking ball. Instead, the Sterling Opera House is entering the final phase of a multi-year renovation project. So far, about $1.7 million has been spent to restore the building’s exterior, including its 2,500-pound cupola, which was returned to its former luster two years ago.

Now, between $3 million and $4 million is needed to finish the interior, according to Sheila O’Malley, director of economic development for the city…”
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In 1987, THS reported in Marquee (Vol. 19, No. 3) that a group of investors had taken an option to purchase the 1250-seat house. At the time, the investors were interested in converting the first floor into offices or a restaurant and restoring the auditorium for performing arts.

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