Republishing as the original post, along with 9 other posts, was deleted during the server migration – worth reposting due to historical significance.


As demolition crews tore down the old Mercer Arts Arena at 375 Mercer St, the past was revealed – and a tiny bit of it was saved. The 1928 building didn’t show its age, as it was “substantially altered in 1961-62 in preparation for its use as an entertainment venue for the Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition” – but the original 1928 facade and decorative features were hidden behind the exterior walls:


Photo credit: Feliks Bane

According to KIRO Radio historian Feliks Bane, the original facade was “in perfect condition… I mean the glass was gone, but these arches were there, big medallions over the doorway and then, as they got farther and father down toward the street, I could see the wings and head of a gargoyle.”

That’s right, a gargoyle. Two of them, and they were destroyed. But, Banel examined the original blueprint and discovered that there were two more gargoyles behind the 1960s makeover. He contacted Seattle Opera and the two were saved. Their fate? Likely donated to the City.

Photo credit: Feliks Bane

Seattle Opera Kicks Off Scavenger Hunt and Hosts Family Day for Cinderella

Courtesy of Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera is kicking off “The Search for Cinderella” – a digital scavenger hunt – on Friday, January 11th, to celebrate the opening of Rossini’s Cinderella on January 12th. Seattle Opera’s production of Cinderella runs for eight performances through January 26, and also includes a Family Day Matinee on January 20th.

So, if the hunt isn’t your thing (or you don’t win) and have kids 18 and under, check out the Family Day Matinee – all students 18 and under in the company of an adult pay only $15 per seat. Family Days also feature special student-oriented activities. There are only 2 Family Days this year – one for Cinderella and one for La Boheme on March 10th.

Courtesy of Seattle Opera

However, if you’re 18+, have a nose for clues and a drive to win, the “Search for Cinderella” is a series of four digital scavenger hunts with free Cinderella tickets as top prizes. Other prizes will be revealed as the game is played and new clues are disclosed. There are four scavenger hunts total, and they’re all played online –see details from Seattle Opera below:

The Game

  • Scavenger hunts begin at 10am on January 11, 14, 16, and 18
  • The day’s grand prize and initial clue will be posted to Seattle Opera’s Facebook and Twitter pages
  • Players decipher digital clues and search the web to win first prize
  • Second-place finishers will receive a pair of tickets to “Viva Verdi!,” a special one-night-only concert on April 6

The Rules

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • No purchase necessary
  • Employees of Seattle Opera and their immediate family and household members are not eligible
  • One winner per household

For complete details visit Seattle Opera’s Blog and good luck!

Seattle Opera director represents U.S. in international Birgit Nilsson Prize panel

Seattle Opera General Director Speight Jenkins was a member of a five-nation jury that awarded the 2011 Birgit Nilsson Prize last week. The international panel, including representatives from Austria, Germany, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom, was selected to choose a currently active singer or conductor for excellence and major contributions in opera.

Jenkins’ friendship with Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson and his commitment to the works of Wagner, who Nilsson performed to much acclaim in her career as an opera singer, are some of the reasons he was chosen, said Seattle Opera spokesperson Tamara Vallejos in an e-mail. Jenkins has been the general director of the Seattle Opera since 1983.

The prize of $1 million, the largest amount ever given in the history of classical music, will be awarded to Italian conductor Riccardo Muti at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, Sweeden October 13, according to the Birgit Nilsson Foundation.

This is the second time the international Birgit Nilsson Prize has been awarded, the first being in 2009. The prize is awarded every 2-3 years.

From the Birgit Nilsson press release:

The philosophy behind the Birgit Nilsson Prize is to perpetuate the legacy of Ms. Nilsson and Sweden’s great operatic tradition by paying tribute to today’s legendary, active figures in music, recognizing the excellence of their work and their major contributions.

Seattle Opera appoints Lisa Bury as new Director of Development

The Seattle Opera is going to start the new year with a new Director of Development, Lisa Bury, who will join the company on January 4, 2011. The announcement (.pdf) was made by Seattle Opera Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale today.

Bury is currently the Director of Development for the Florida Grand Opera in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.  Prior to this she worked as Senior Director of Development for the Arizona Opera, and in various positions with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Florida Grand Opera, and the Long Beach Symphony.

“We are more than fortunate to have Lisa Bury join us as our new Development Director,” General Director Speight Jenkins said in the release. “Her extensive development experience at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Florida Grand Opera, Arizona Opera, and her rich opera knowledge and performance experience make her ideal for Seattle Opera.”

Bury, who is a trained violist and music educator, first fell in love with the Seattle Opera when she saw a performance of Wagner’s Ring in the early ‘90s.

“The company’s unwavering commitment to the art form is inspiring to me,” Bury said.  “Now more than ever, innovation and flexibility must join forces with focused communication for opera companies to remain relevant to the audiences and communities they serve.”

In her new role, Bury will supervise the development department, which is working toward an annual funding goal of $13 million, and create a funding strategy to support the company’s ambitious artistic goals for the future.