I recently had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour of the Citizens Bank Boston Opera House. The tour took about an hour or so and offered a look into the history and architecture of the building plus some time backstage and onstage to see how different productions operate behind the scenes (including a peek inside a dressing room with costumes from Boston Ballet!)
The Boston Opera House is planning to offer more tours like this in the future and I definitely recommend it if you’re an architecture geek like me, or just curious about the history of this building after seeing a show here. When available, you’ll be able to find dates to take the tour at bostonoperahouse.com.
The tour is part audio tour and part guided tour. The audio portion of the tour can be done on your own cell phone, and will take you throughout the lobby areas, and the mezzanine. Then, after the audio tour is finished, you’ll meet a guide to head backstage for the second half of the tour.
Photos are permitted on the tour, and that was something I was really excited about! Before even getting into the fascinating history and architecture of the Boston Opera House, I was just excited to capture some photos of the space without having to navigate a crowd at the same time like you normally would during a show.
The audio portion of the tour covered the building’s renowned Thomas Lamb architectural designs and demonstrated how it is one of the finest known examples of a vaudeville circuit palace. As many times as I’ve been inside this building to see a ballet or Broadway show, I honestly never knew much of its history. The audio tour covers it in detail thankfully, with information on the building’s start as the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre that originally showed films and vaudeville performances through periods of renovation and historic preservation and to the interiors we see today.
Architecturally, I noticed so many details I’ve simply never taken the time to look at closely while attending a performance at the Boston Opera House, so it was nice to be able to slow down and take it all in during the tour.
It was also really interesting to learn how the building’s interior had been preserved and renovated over the years. The design of the carpeting in the lobby for instance, was recreated using designs of the original from the Library of Congress, and the tour covered which portions of ceiling paintings were original and which had to undergo some extensive conservation work to create the look we see today.
The second half of the tour that took us backstage was just as interesting and truly a unique experience. We were able to see areas where performers warm up before shows, where the trap door onstage would lead out to if it’s used, a dressing room and more before heading on stage.
Visiting one of the dressing rooms was especially fun as there were some costumes on display from Boston Ballet. The costumes always look stunning from the audience, too, but I loved being able to see all of the details in this costume up close during the tour!
We also saw a collection of murals backstage for shows that have performed at the Boston Opera House that were signed by members of the cast. The murals were really cool to see and something that I would have never known about if not for taking the tour.
I loved learning more about the Boston Opera House and can’t wait to be back next month to see The Nutcracker with Boston Ballet. The historical tours of the building are a new offering that just ran for a couple of dates this month, but they are planning on doing them again when there are no performances happening.
Tickets for The Nutcracker with Boston Ballet are on sale now starting at $39, and performances run November 26-December 26, 2021. Find tickets online at bostonballet.org/nutcracker or call (617) 695-6955.
- Five Things to Love About Boston Ballet’s Production of The Nutcracker
- Five Reasons to See a Ballet When You Visit Boston
- Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, aka My Favorite Christmas Tradition