No overview of the city’s opera scene could be complete without a discussion of its most glaringly obvious gap: a proper venue for opera.
This is both a historically fraught issue — ask any local opera lover with a long memory about Sarah Caldwell, or the beautiful Opera House on Huntington Avenue that the city tore down in 1958 — as well as the Achilles heel of today’s local performing arts scene. The city boasts symphonic music, early music, chamber music, and new music of international caliber. But astonishingly, given its cultural accomplishments, Boston has no purpose-built home for opera, with an adequately sized pit and acoustics friendly to the natural human voice. Of the 10 largest cities in the country, it is the only one without a dedicated home for this art form. Other much smaller cities enjoy such venues, from Sarasota, Fla., to Kansas City, Mo. And if you speak with arts professionals with a national viewpoint, their perspective can be withering.
“Of all the places I work in North America, Boston has the absolute worst facilities,” said Dory Vanderhoof, a senior partner at a Toronto-based cultural management firm that consults for performing arts groups across the country.
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