Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Next Divine Lorraine

EB Realty Management has released renderings for North Broad's Metropolitan Opera House and, well, it looks like the Met we know with purple lights and a "Box Office" sign.

Without it's pediment and crown restored, it gives of an Eastern State Penitentiary vibe, a preserved state of decay. In some ways, like Eastern State, that's quite beautiful. And on an Avenue that hasn't quite figured out what it wants to be, it could be incredibly unique. 

Considering developers Eric Blumenfeld and Billy Procida have been teasing us with the notion that the Met will host one of the "nation's biggest concert promoters," it seems they'd have the prospective funds to completely restore the Met to it's original grandeur. But Blumenfeld and Procida have proven themselves unconventional developers with an admiration for beleaguered brick and mortar. 

We know the Met won't be showing operas, at least not conventional ones. Those venturing up North Broad for a concert won't be looking for a classical venue, but something unique. The Met's current facade offers just that, and perhaps that's why Blumenfeld and Procida chose to leave it as-found. 

Not that anyone cares, but I'd offer only two changes: track down it's rooftop and sidewalk signage. 

There's a scene in the movie Twelve Monkeys where a homeless preacher (from the future) is prophesying outside of the abandoned opera house, and it's deteriorating sign hangs in the background. 

Find it, and reinstall it. In the 1990s, the Met sign was every bit a part of North Broad's cultural legacy as the Divine Lorraine's, and you know someone has it stored in a barn somewhere. 

That said, as Philadelphia's historic theater's go, we've had some losses. But the preservation of the Met exponentially outweighs the loss of places like the Boyd. The Boyd was a cinematic, Art Deco beauty. Not the best, but the best - and only - we had left. But the Met was and is something else. Something iconic from it's inception. It's salvation, even in it's current state, is a win for preservation in this city. 

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