Building & Backstage Tours

Groups may request a 30-45 minute tour of Abravanel Hall or the Capitol Theatre. Groups may also request a 45-60 minute tour of the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera Production Studios (including our Costume Shop and our Set & Scenic Design Studio). School presentations emphasize careers behind-the-scenes. Please note that our availabiity to tour Capitol Theatre is limited by the production calendar. Email Ky Johnson in the Education Department to schedule a tour This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 801-869-9079.


Abravanel Hall

Abravanel Hall is home to the Utah Symphony Orchestra and part of the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts. Adjacent to Temple Square and the Salt Palace on South Temple Street this architectural masterpiece has become a landmark. Besides symphony performances, the hall also hosts numerous concerts and special events. Abravanel Hall was created specifically to provide an environment of acoustical excellence by Dr.Cyril M. Harris, who was the acoustical consultant for the remodeled "Avery Fisher Hall" in New York City, the "Kennedy Center" in Washington D.C. and "Orchestra Hall" in Minneapolis, all of which are known for their acoustical excellence. Abravanel Hall, formerly known as Symphony Hall, was so named in May 1993 for the beloved Maestro Maurice Abravanel, conductor of the Utah Symphony and advocate for all the arts in Utah. Abravanel Hall is actually a concrete building within a brick building. Inside these two outer shells stands the beautiful concert hall. Designed strictly as a concert hall, the stage has no proscenium; rather it is an extension of the audience. The form of the hall is rectangular, which is characteristic of the world's finest symphony halls, such as "The Grosser Musikverinssaal" in Vienna, the "Concertgebouw" in Amsterdam (Netherlands), the "Avery Fisher Hall" in New York City and the "Symphony Hall" in Boston. To reach the hall you must pass through sound lock corridors which are designed to prevent the confusion and noise from the lobby from spilling into the concert hall. The interior of the hall is dominated by convex curved surfaces for both the walls and ceilings. Not only these designs, but also the basic materials were carefully chosen by Dr. Harris and the architects for acoustical purposes. Suspended from the ceiling are six 16 x 16 foot brass chandeliers with 18,000 hand cut beads and prisms of Bohemian crystals imported from Austria and Czechoslovakia. The four-story lobby is crowned with a ceiling of white oak and solid brass and adorned with more than 12,000 square feet of tempered glass made in England. The lobby of the hall orients itself toward the East and the former home of the Utah Symphony, the Salt Lake Tabernacle and Temple Square.

Production Studios

See where the Utah Opera magic is created. Utah Opera purchased an old electronics warehouse and outfitted to serve our needs. Highlights of the tour include Costume Shop, Prop Studio, Set Storage and Shop, and Assembly Bay. 

CT tour

Capitol Theatre

Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, this historic landmark is the home of Ballet West, Utah Opera, and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. The theatre also hosts world class Broadway productions and community arts education programs. The building began as the Orpheum Theatre, and when completed in 1913 was recognized as an architectural gem featuring some of the "highest standard acts and greatest stars of the stage." The theatre housed from 1,800 to 2,000 seats and was built at a cost of $250,000. Capitalization of the project came from the Walker Estate in Salt Lake City. G. Albert Lansburgh, a 36-year-old San Francisco architect, with a degree from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, designed the building with its tapestry brick, polychrome terra cotta and steel reinforcement. The only other major building in Salt Lake using the new terra cotta material on its exterior was the Hotel Utah. Harmony and high art keynoted the decor described by one newspaperman of the time as, "rich and restful without vulgar or gaudy display." The Orpheum was significant for introducing innovative architectural features in theater construction and the most modern mechanical contrivances of its time to the Intermountain West. Vaudevillians entertained crowds twice daily; tickets sold for 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents and 75 cents (depending on the performance and the type of seat). In 1923, the Ackerman Harris vaudeville chain purchased the theatre. Vaudeville continued to reign as king-of-the-house and movies provided a sideline. The theatre was again sold in 1927 to Louis Marcus, a much-respected mayor of Salt Lake City and Utah movie pioneer, who paid $300,000 for the theatre. Marcus enlarged the seating capacity to 2,260 and installed the "Wurlitzer" with Alexander Schreiner (the Salt Lake LDS Tabernacle organist) as its spotlighted musician. A sunburst set in the ceiling was fashioned "from a pattern in the carpet used to cover the floor and staircase used in the Lyon cathedral in southern France." When the theatre raised its curtain on September 29, 1927, it had a new name. The Orpheum was now Capitol Theatre. The "all-talking" picture was introduced to Capitol Theatre in 1929 when On Trial, a Warner Brothers feature was projected on the screen with a Victaphone bringing the star's voice to the audience. Capitol Theatre underwent another facelift in 1947. Movies continued to be the main attraction at the theatre with live performances staged as they became available. For instance, Stanley Holloway played in a run of My Fair Lady, Judith Evellyn played in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Frank Fay played in Harvey. It was December of 1975 when Salt Lake County residents passed an 8.6 million dollar bond to renovate the old Orpheum into a performing arts center as part of the Bicentennial Celebration. On October 18, 1978, the curtain at Capitol Theatre rose again ushering in a new era of performing arts in Salt Lake County.

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