Grand spectacle. The finest singers of our time. And immortal music performed by our internationally celebrated orchestra and chorus. #LongLivePassion
The Ardis Krainik Theatre has a 3,276-seat capacity, making it the second largest opera auditorium in North America (second only to New York’s Metropolitan Opera which seats 3,800). No pillars or posts support the two balconies or the 12-story ceiling. The orchestra pit seats 120 musicians. Thanks to dedicated funding from an Anonymous Donor, the company recently embarked on the largest renovation in nearly two decades, representing an exciting step forward for Lyric's Patron Accessibility initiative. The project features updated sightlines on the main floor; wider, better-lit aisles; additional wheelchair seating; and lush, state-of-the-art seats on all levels.
The proscenium measures 50 feet by 35, and the stage is 75 feet in depth and 120 in width at its maximum dimensions—the widest in the United States and the largest in downtown Chicago. The fly system above the stage is also one of the tallest in the world at 145 feet high (12 stories).
The famous painted fire curtain (depicting the parade scene from Verdi's AIDA) and the interior decoration details of the Civic Opera House were created by American artist Jules Guerin in a palette of salmon pinks, roses, olives, golds and bronzes. The fire curtain is 50 feet wide, 35 feet high, 9 inches thick and weighs 20 tons.
In 1996, a new mainstage curtain was installed, made of 580 yards of heavy-weight wool velour and silk fringe to replicate the original 1929 curtain. Each side of the curtain weighs approximately 500 pounds; the hung dimensions are 64 x 45 feet.
Between April and August of 1996, all 3,563 seats and carpeting were removed from the auditorium. The metal portions were repainted and the wood arms were refinished; the upholstery, seat and back of each chair were replaced. 6,000 square yards of new deep-red carpeting were installed in the theater and lobbies of the Civic Opera House. The 31 boxes on the mezzanine level were rebuilt and enlarged by 18 inches. 20,000 square feet of scaffolding was installed, rising 7 stories high, so that artisans could completely repaint the auditorium for the first time since 1929. All main floor and balcony seats were removed once more in 2020, this time to be replaced by lush, state-of-the-art seats. After careful removal, new concrete was poured on the main floor to smooth the aisles and allow for new electrical wiring. The aisles were reshaped and widened to enhance accessibility, new wheelchair platforms were installed, additional lighting was added to the retrofitted and re-painted metal aisle end panels, larger, more ergonomic seats were installed, as well as new carpets throughout the theater.