The Academy of Music
The Grand Old Lady of Locust Street
Philadelphia’s most revered performing space is an elegant socialite outside, with a discreet brick and gaslit-façade; inside, it’s a prima donna done up in scarlet with gold caryatids and a 5,000-pound crystal chandelier. Napoleon LeBrun built the Academy of Music in 1857, modeling its lavish interior on La Scala Opera House in Milan.
The oldest known opera house continuously in use in the U.S., the Academy is home to the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet and “Broadway at the Academy,” a series of national productions. For more than a century, its most famous resident was the Philadelphia Orchestra, which returns every January to play the Academy Anniversary Concert and Ball.
Momentous occasions have happened in this National Historic Landmark. In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant was nominated for his second term here; four years later (1876), Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” had its first U.S. performance. John Phillip Sousa introduced his “The Stars and Stripes Forever” here, Philadelphian Jeannette MacDonald made her debut at age 6, Leopold Stokowski introduced Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand,” and Igor Stravinky’s “The Rite of Spring” was staged with Martha Graham dancing.
Ushers are among the Academy and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s most knowledgeable fans, and they welcome questions. One-hour tours of the Academy are also available with an advance reservation.
(h2)beta. Kids’ Shows
The Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker is a must see for children at Christmas.
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