The Ellie Caulkins Opera House, which opened on September 10, 2005, is located in Denver, Colorado as part of the large Denver Performing Arts Complex. It seats 2,225. The Caulkins family pledged $7 million towards the enhancement of the lyric opera house and adjacent public spaces which were constructed inside of the Newton Auditorium.
History of the theatre
The Municipal Auditorium, the largest in America except for Madison Square Garden in New York, was completed in time to host the Democratic National Convention in 1908. Mayor Speer and the Chamber of Commerce raised $100,000 to celebrate the July 7 grand opening of the Auditorium with Denver's first national political convention, when William Jennings Bryan was nominated the third time for President.
Originally, the building was a multi-purpose structure: it accommodated concerts, operas, theatrical shows, conventions, basketball, auto shows and even circuses, with flags flying from its domes and light bulbs outlining its pediments, cornice, and corners. The proscenium of the original building was designed to be portable so as to create different-sized spaces for different events. When the proscenium was in place, the building was a 3,326 seat theatre with an extraordinarily large back stage area. When the proscenium was raised, increasing the seating capacity to 12,000, the stage and backstage area became large enough to hold circuses and rodeos.
In need of major work, the Newton Auditorium underwent a renovation funded primarily through seat tax revenues collected at city-owned facilities and the proceeds of a bond issue approved by Denver voters in 2002. In all, the city spent $75 million, while private donors provided $17 million more. The gift from the Caulkins family was used to fund additional enhancements to the lyric opera house and adjacent public spaces inside the Newton Auditorium. The “Ellie” opened as Opera Colorado's new home on 10 September 2005 with a gala benefit for the Colorado Opera Foundation and featured some major singers from the World of opera. Opera Colorado's first season in the new opera house opened on November 3, 2005 with a production of Carmen starring internationally-known mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the title role.
The Chambers Grant Salon
The Chambers Grant Salon one of the building's other facilities which can be accessed from the Ellie's main lobby. Holding up to 750 people, it can be used for meetings or refreshments.