Source for below – documentation given for the Floyd Historical Society by the late M. Lucille Reisz
Fast Facts: Cost - $100,000, Seated 2500, Lighting provided by 150 gas burners, Stage dimensions 34 by 65 feet.
The Opera House was a multi purpose structure. It played host to operas, commencements, a Democratic Congressional Convention (1868), plays, and much more. Opening night was November 26, 1866. A play was presented, “The Comedy of Fashion or Life in New York” written by Anna Cora Mowatt. It was pronounced as one of the finest American comedies.
Here’s a description of the drop curtain from the Daily New Albany Ledger, November 21, 1866: “It is a fine piece of work and reflects great credit upon the artist, Mr. West, who designed and painted the curtain. Mr. West is from Cincinnati. The scene on the curtain represents the Villa of Lucullus, an ancient Roman General. There are tall trees (tropical) that stand out in bold relief. Caves and grottos are also represented near. In the distance on a plateau is situated the villa.”
The Opera House was quite a draw. “Arrangements have been made with the Railroad Company to bring citizens from Jeffersonville to attend performances during the season at $.15 each way. The ferry boats and Louisville Street cars will run until after the performance to accommodate visitors from Louisville and Portland.”
Also noted (amusingly) were some not so happy about this addition to New Albany. “Not everyone was happy about the New Theatre. Many ministers preached against the immorality of attending the theatre….
Highlights from season performances:
1869 – Hamlet, Tom Thumb and His Wife, the Swiss Bell Ringers
1872 – An Opera Troupe presented “Martha” and “Barber of Seville”
1875 – A “grand masquerade party”, Gilmore’s 22nd Regiment Band
1876 – Davy Crocket
1878 – Humpty Dumpty, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Two show programs are below. I’ll post a bit more about interior descriptions in the next couple days. I’ve just about run out of gas today.