We’re kind of a big deal.

1. The Central City Opera House was built for $23,000 and opened in March 1878 

2. It was built by Cornish and Welsh gold miners who wanted a place for entertainment

3. In a time when cultural facilities were generally built and paid for by one rich person (E.g. Horace Tabor), Central City Opera House was conceived by the community and built by the whole town

4. The Opera House was designed by noted Colorado architect Robert S. Roeschlaub, who also designed the Chamberlin Observatory at the University of Denver

5. It was the most luxurious theater between Chicago and San Francisco. The walls are three feet thick, giving the space perfect acoustics

6. The Opera House seats 552 and the stage is 51 ft wide by 42 ft deep, allowing every audience member an up close and personal experience

7. The miners would toss gold nuggets on stage after performances in place of roses

8. P.T. Barnum delivered his “How to be Happy, Healthy and Rich” speech from the Opera House stage

9. The town fell on hard times, and the Opera House closed in 1927

10. The Opera House was donated to the University of Denver by the McFarlane family

11. In 1931, two women named Anne Evans and Ida Kruse McFarlane created the Opera House Association to restore the theater and the university leased the theater for $1 a year with a 99 year lease

12. Camille was the first production of the summer festival, in July 1932. Central City Opera is the second oldest summer opera festival in the country

13. When the Opera House reopened in the 30s, a star-studded artistic team was brought in for Camille, including stage and film star known as “The First Lady of American Cinema” Lillian Gish and Broadway legend, Director Robert Edmond Jones

14. Lillian Gish found a rat in her dressing room flowers after the show

15. The only route to Central City from Denver was to take a winding narrow dirt road nicknamed “Oh My God Road” because of its 2000ft descent in three miles 

16. Mae West starred in Diamond Lil at Central City Opera in 1949 when she was in her sixties

17. Up until the mid-1970s, NYC’s Broadway theater district had no air conditioning, so Broadway musicals and plays would travel to Central City in August to escape the heat

18. There is no heating in the Opera House, even to this day

19. At one point, Central City Opera was the largest single property owner in Central City and still maintains 30 properties, which house cast members during the summer

20. There have been numerous ghost encounters in Central City, including in the Teller House, the gift shop and the Opera House. Items regularly fall off of shelves and lights flicker. The first ever ghost hunt will be held in August this year

21. The Central City Opera Guild contains around 400 volunteer members who help prepare the properties for the summer, plant flowers along the street and fundraise throughout the year to help sustain the company

22. In 2019, a heavy rainstorm flooded the Opera House and the stage had to be rebuilt less than 2 months before opening night

23. 2020 marks the 88th year of the Central City Opera summer festival

24. Central City Opera House has seen a wide variety of acts on its stage since the 1800s, ranging from opera, to vaudeville; community theater and even boxing matches 

25. Central City Opera reaches 40,000+ people a year through statewide education programs and performances