Built in 1879, the Napa Valley Opera House was the backdrop for what was considered to be the only "permissible" form of entertainment of its day. Home to many classic acts including Gilbert and Sullivan, it was the place to be seen by men and women of higher status. Just thirty-five years later the Opera House closed its doors. It hardly recovered after the 1906 San Francisco Bay Earthquake and new innovations in entertainment like the movie cinema. For more than half a century various businesses set up shop in the Opera House. During World War 1 the military even turned it into a makeshift armory for a time. The Napa Valley Opera House was nearly torn down in 1973 until a group of historical preservationists rallied to list it as a National Historic Landmark. In 1985, the late artist Veronica di Rosa and her friends formed what was to become the Napa Valley Opera House Non-Profit Group and purchased the property. Unfortunately di Rosa didn't live to see the project completed. Now, completely refurbished, the Napa Valley Opera house owes its renewed, glorious state to the caring entrepreneurs and citizens of Napa Valley. Vineyard owner Robert Mondavi issued a $2,000,000 grant ' and challenge that the non-profit group met with fervor, raising an additional $2,000,000 used to restore it to its former glory. A year later, in 1998, the Light the Lights Community Campaign raised half a million dollars to further champion the cause. Those involved in rejuvenating and restoring the Opera House also went the extra mile to update its amenities. Improvements included a more suitable orchestra pit and a 25' addition called the River House that provided more room and tied the project into the Napa River development project. The generosity and concern of the community continued throughout this process. Studio 1030 was developed for the sole purpose of raising the $3,000,000 needed to complete the restoration. In June of 2002 performances began at the Napa Valley Opera House. Dianne Reeves was bestowed the honor of performing for the opening season. Other shows followed including family shows and classical music. The 2002 season was a success. The day finally came in 2003 when the main theater of the Opera House could officially open its doors to the main theater. It was the first time since 1913 it could boast that claim. The glory of the Napa Valley Opera House was a dream no more. It is an incredible story of a community coming together to honor history and art and home. After countless hours volunteered by the community, millions of dollars donated to its worthy cause, the Opera House once again stood for reputable entertainment. The exception this time being that it is available to all regardless of "class" or status. If one decides to take their family to Napa Valley they would be remiss not to include the Opera House as a part of it. The experience of the Opera House is one to share with all.
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