Inside Chicago's iconic Civic Opera House

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - It’s hard to imagine that when it comes to pure talent, this is just the beginning.
Because behind the scenes of Lyric Opera, lies an elaborate network of know-how.

A lot has changed since the Civic Opera House was built in 1929, and some of the most impressive accomplishments under this roof lie hidden behind the scenes.

When it comes to receiving a personal tour of the Civic Opera House, it’s hard to do better than general director Antony Freud.

We began directly behind the set, which was formerly a smaller theater for plays when the place was originally built.

The cavernous space is now the parking area for larger pieces of scenery not used on-stage.

From there, FOX 32 News traveled to the wardrobe department, which uses 12-18 staff members for fitting, altering, maintaining and making new pieces for the shows.

But no costume is complete without a wig.

The ones used at Lyric are made of real human hair, tied to a mesh base that’s custom made to perfectly fit a singer’s head.

Each wig takes 40-60 hours to make and are threaded one hair at a time.

An unbelievable amount of effort that’s put forth for the moment when an actor gets to do this: 3,563 seats – all staring right at you.

The second largest opera auditorium in North America, the largest stage in downtown Chicago, it’s a stage that’s held some of the greatest voices in history.

But once you get here, you have to know what you’re doing – so we went into sword training.

This is legendary Tony-winning  fight director B.H. Barry, brought out of retirement to stage the combat in Lyric’s Romeo and Juliet.

Fight choreography flirts between the necessity for realism and the necessity for safety.

Luckily, D.B. Is here to perfect both.

Terry Prachett once wrote “opera happens because a large number of things amazingly fail to go wrong.”

Touring behind the scenes of the Civic Opera House only proves that he’s right, because it’s team work that makes the dream work – that and one hell of a voice.

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