One More Shakeup On Boston's Stages: The Boston Lyric Opera Parts Ways With The Shubert

The inside of the more than 1,500 seat Shubert Theatre. (Courtesy Citi Performing Arts Center)
The inside of the more than 1,500 seat Shubert Theatre. (Courtesy Citi Performing Arts Center)

There's more news to report from Boston's shifting theater scene.

In the same week that Boston University and the Huntington Theatre Company ended their 33-year partnership and the future of Emerson College's historic Colonial Theatre is in question, the Boston Lyric Opera is parting ways with the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre after an 18-year relationship.

General and artistic director Esther Nelson said her organization will not renew its contract.

"We made the business decision to find a venue that currently suits all of our needs," Nelson told WBUR's Sharon Brody. "It was a decision that came after about a year of good negotiations, going back and forth."

The BLO will present their spring 2016 productions at the Shubert, and begin using a new venue in the fall of 2016, according to a statement.

Nelson said she still intends the BLO have a home in the city and be accessible by public transportation.

"We consider ourselves a major component of Boston's cultural landscape," she said.

The BLO does not have a new location yet, but Nelson said they will announce their new space soon.

"The criteria certainly is that that you have to have space ... where you could perform, you have to have a space for the orchestra musicians and our chorus and you have to have a great experience for the audience," she said.

Nelson said they are considering their audience in particular.

"Patrons are what keep us alive and going," she said. "It is critical that patrons have an exciting experience that they feel that they're well taken care of, that we give them excellent service, in addition to the performance — the performance goes without saying."

Nelson said the string of changes on the Boston theater scene have a lot to do with older buildings not being able to adapt to modern technology.

"Boston does currently not have a house that I would say, from the theater perspective, would be perfect for opera," Nelson said. "But it also lacks a place where many of the performing arts — the local performing arts organizations — can be or call a home."


The fact that Boston has many theaters, but not suitable homes for all the challenges the performing arts present is a problem, she said.

"The story here is a larger story and it is something the community has to look into," Nelson said.

In a statement, Nelson and the BLO board thanked Citi Performing Arts head Josiah Spaulding and the Shubert Theatre staff for 18 great years.

The company is staging it's final performance of “La Boheme” Saturday night at the Shubert Theatre.

With reporting by WBUR's Andrea Shea and Sharon Brody

This article was originally published on October 10, 2015.



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