This Moment In History


 Excerpted from The Grand Experience by Toni Young:

“Despite the fact that the theater was called an Opera House, opera played a relatively minor role. During the initial season (1871-72) there was only one full scale opera, Martha, by Perepa Rosa Grand English Opera Company. Labeled the musical event of the season, Martha was attended by a large audience. One operatic concert was held in May.

The initial season at the Opera House would not have been complete without a performance of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the play based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel. The most popular American play of the 19th Century, it was performed twice in April. Before the first performance, the Every Evening reported: ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin has been received with enthusiasm for years, but it has never been presented in this city so it is presumable many of our people have not seen it…’

Concerts played a small role in the Opera House. Of the four concerts given during 1871-72 (Grand Concert Handel & Hayden, Rossini Quintet & Sextet (twice), and Theodore Thomas Concert), none were well attended. By the time the Opera House closed for the summer of 1872, it had hosted more than 70 performances. Never had the cultural life of Wilmington been so active.”