In Baltimore's arts area there are plenty of choices – Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, The Maryland Institute College of Art, and The Lyric Opera House, plus other smaller venues. Visitors to Baltimore should hop the Light Rail and take the short ride north to this artful area.
We recently visited the Lyric, and had a chance to rediscover this jewel of a concert hall. It's a magnificent old hall that opened with a Boston Symphony Orchestra in October 1894. Over the years, it has been the site of everything from jazz concerts to boxing matches, famous speakers to cooking exhibitions, hypnotists to magicians. Enrico Caruso sang here, Charles Lindbergh spoke here, Will Rogers joked here, and Leopold Stokowski conducted here. Since its first concert, the Lyric's acoustics have been rated among the best in the world. The acoustics helped saved the Lyric over the years – the auditorium's qualities are still world-renowned. In fact, the auditorium is registered on the National Register of Historical Places, though the exterior is not. This makes it possible for modernization of the entrance and related facilities.
Several times in its history, the Lyric was at risk of disappearing. In 1920, a group of citizens raised a quarter million dollars to keep the theater from becoming an auto dealership. Then, in the 1960's, there was talk of demolishing the theater because is was rundown. A multi-million dollar renovation between 1979 and 1982 turned the Lyric into a major multi-purpose venue without changing the classic look and excellent acoustics of the auditorium. When the Baltimore Symphony moved to the nearby Meyerhoff in 1982, the gap in the Lyric's schedule was quickly filled by the Baltimore Opera Company along with Broadway musicals, and touring entertainers. In recent years, the grand old hall has hosted the likes of David Copperfield, Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jay Leno, and Mel Brooks.
Baltimore is known for its Inner Harbor and lively waterfront. In the world of music and entertainment, our Lyric Opera House shines just as brightly as the lights of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.