Hidden City’s final performance will be in the hulking Metropolitan Opera House, which was once one of the largest and most opulent theaters in America.
Hidden City, the city-wide festival that has brought performers and artists into the abandoned or forgotten buildings of Philadelphia, is coming to a close this week. The final performances will be in the hulking Metropolitan Opera House, which has literally been rotting on North Broad Street for years. When it was built it was one of the largest and most opulent theaters in America.
Credit: photo by Joseph E.B. Elliott.
A hundred years ago people came here wearing furs and top hats. Today you have to wear a hardhat. Molded plaster is falling off the walls and ceiling, leaving behind gaping holes.
There is music, but it’s hard to place. Tucked among the piles of rubble are 30 boomboxes playing droning tones. A dozen dancers seem to get lost inside the cavernous space. Choreographer Wally Cardona says he didn’t want people to focus on an particular dancer because the surroundings are so rich.
Cardona: It’s not about filling it up so much as giving people time to be in it and let their imagination go in the space. It was about, I need to provide spaciousness within what’s happening here because it’s a full space.
Since its heyday in the 1920’s, the building fell on hard times and has been used for basketball games, boxing matches, and religious services. Basketballs are incorporated into this week’s dance performance.