Planned renovation at Chicago's Lyric Opera promises improved sights, sounds

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's Lyric Opera is taking on one of the most ambitious makeovers in its 90-year history.

The change will directly affect opera-goers who come downtown to experience some of the world's greatest opera stars.

Thanks to a massive donation from an anonymous donor, the Lyric Opera will replace all of the seating in the theater, totaling about 3,500 seats.

The renovations are expected to not only improve comfort and sightlines, but also the sound.

"Acousticians have been overseeing every aspect of the design from their shape, their upholstery, their covering, through to the ways in which the rows will be realigned," said Anthony Freud, general director, president and CEO of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. "I'm actually very confident our acoustics will improve."

The new seating will have a wider base, offer more legroom and provide greater comfort, according to Opera officials.

The facility also plans to re-align the seats so that those sitting in the front section won't have their views blocked by the seats in front.

"No longer will you be looking at the head of the person in front of you," Freud said.

Because of the new wider design, the Opera plans to reduce the number of seats in the theater by a few hundred, but they're confident the experience will be worth it for opera fans and singers.

"It's a fantastic moment for us, I must say," Freud said.

The Lyric Opera's old seats will be removed in mid-June so that they can be replaced by the start of the new season in mid-September.
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