The most elegant arts venue in the city is home to the world-renowned Lyric Opera of Chicago.. The Venue A blend of art deco and art nouveau elements dominate the huge theater, with its commedia dell'arte masks and instrument cornucopia around the entrances. It is a massive, space that boasts fine acoustics, penetrating even to the farthest reaches of the vertigo-inducing upper balcony. The majestic grand foyer is an elegant space for pre-performance promenading. Sightlines are good from the main floor and boxes, but from the hall's upper reaches, without opera glasses, you may as well be watching from on a Sony Watchman.
History The pet project of Chicago utility industrialist Samuel Insull, the opera house opened Nov. 4, 1929, six days after the stock market crash. The ornate structure was designed by the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, which was also behind the Field Museum, the Wrigley Building and the Merchandise Mart. After renting the space for most of its history, the Lyric Opera bought the theater and backstage areas of the building in 1993. A three-year, $100 million renovation completed in 1996 expanded and rehabbed the antiquated backstage facilities.