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Opera Projected Live On Back Wall of Lyric Building Could Light Up River

By Ted Cox | May 3, 2016 4:29pm
 Live opera might soon be projected on the back wall of the Lyric Opera House — an idea embraced by Mayor Emanuel.
Live opera might soon be projected on the back wall of the Lyric Opera House — an idea embraced by Mayor Emanuel.
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David Brody Bond LLP

DOWNTOWN — The opera might soon mix with the drive-in — or the paddle-in — with live screenings above the Chicago River if a proposal pitched Tuesday as a tourist attraction gains an ear at the Lyric.

Revealing a long-rumored plan to project live performances on the riverside back wall of the Civic Opera House, Chicago business leaders Laurence Geller of Geller Capital Partners and Lou Raizin of Broadway in Chicago made it part of an extended pitch Tuesday on possible tourist attractions at the City Club.

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Over a year ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke of the idea in an interview with DNAinfo, on the condition that his support not be released until the proposal was made public.

Saying his wife, Amy Rule, loves opera, Emanuel said, "We're working on it," then gushed about the possibilities of seeing the Lyric Opera indoors and out.

"When there's an opera, they're gonna have live video on the wall," he said, on the smooth facade behind the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Upper Wacker Drive, above the Chicago River. "You can take a boat and sit on the river and watch the opera and listen to it. Won't that be cool?

"So people in kayaks, you'll have some wine and you can watch the opera," he added.

Emanuel was obviously thinking warm-weather performances, as were Geller and Raizin in a promotional video they showed touting the idea. Yet Geller and Raizin also said it could play a role in making Chicago a year-round tourist destination.

The Lyric did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Yet the potential was obvious.

And not necessarily just for opera. The Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair recently performed a double-bill at the Civic Opera House.

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