New seats are waiting for audiences to return at Lyric Opera House

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A major renovation is underway at the famed Lyric Opera House in Chicago.

It may be closed to the public because of COVID-19, but major work has been happening behind the scenes.

Stagehands normally work on sets, lighting and all parts of productions on the stage at the Lyric Opera House.

But with shows cancelled during the pandemic, they have had plenty of time to work on the other side of the stage.

The opera house has installed the more than 3,000 new seats in the historic theater.

The renovations have been a a painstaking process.

The Lyric is one of a handful of major opera houses in the world and much of the building is protected with landmark status.

Any change in the theater that could impact the acoustics which allow audiences to hear every note from the singers on stage has been closely monitored.

The news seats will also allow audiences a better view of the stage.

They have already poured new concrete on the floor and added new carpeting and curved the aisled to allow the rows of seats to be offset.

Next time audiences are able to visit the Lyric, people will be able to look between two seats at the stage rather than the backs of people's heads.

The new configuration will have nearly 300 fewer seats than before. The seats have been spread out between the main floor and the three balcony levels.

The updates will also improve wheelchair accessibility.

The Lyric got input from audience members for months before embarking on the project.

Originally they planned to cram the work in during the summer between shows.

When COVID-19 hit, they were forced to cancel the entire season, which allowed them to do the work during what would normally be the fall season.

The old seats look pretty similar to the new ones but they are now more comfortable, durable and roomier. Now the are just waiting to let audiences try them out.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.