Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Baltimore's Lyric Opera House gets a new -and much longer- name.

According to various sources, the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore will be renamed for the former owner of the Baltimore Ravens and his wife. The generous couple gave $3.5M to the theater's building campaign.

Besides the Modells' donation, the Lyric's $12.5 million campaign received funding from private donations and public bonds. But, indeed it will be the Modells that have their names on the theater - Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric.

Could they have perhaps just called it the Modell Opera House or something like that? I miss the days when class and humility came with major donations. Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric is just too much. Maybe it should be shortened to PAMPACATL?

Anyway, the money given by the Modells further ensures completion of extensive renovations to the 2,564-seat theater, which was home to the now-defunct Baltimore Opera Company, a tenant of the Lyric for five - yes, FIVE - decades. The improvements to the stage area will offer possibilities for elaborate productions of a variety of works. The renovations are scheduled for completion by the fall of 2011, when a staging of Verdi's popular opera La Traviata will be presented by the Lyric.

Jim Harp, Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric's director of opera and educational activities tells the Baltimore Sun that the sets for La Traviata next year are coming from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and are "as opulent and beautiful as you will see at any theater in the world. We would never have been able to accommodate them before."

So, this question bares asking ... again ... where were all of these donors with all of this money when Baltimore Opera Company needed it in order to stay in business? Perhaps the Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric wanted to be the reigning opera producer in Baltimore.

[Photo: Art Modell and his wife Pat. By Elizabeth Malby, Baltimore Sun)

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