The Detroit Opera House sprawls across an entire city block, its imposing size and elegant design belying its circuitous history. Originally opened in 1922 as a vaudeville palace—and designed by the renowned architect behind the city's Fillmore and Fox theaters—the space played host to live music and recorded films. But despite the venue’s remarkable acoustics and cheery demeanor, it sat abandoned for long stretches of time over the next few decades. Luckily, fate intervened in 1988 when the opera acquired the building, starting an ambitious remodeling project that culminated in an opening gala featuring Luciano Pavarotti. The opera house’s modern iteration mimics the design of Europe's greatest performance spaces, with an the ornate main hall adorned with vaulted ceilings and sumptuous red curtains.
Since 1963, more than two million guests that have passed through the Hilberry Theatre and been inspired by the passion and portrayal of the human condition they have seen on stage. Every year, audiences at the Hilberry laugh, cry, engage, question, applaud and cheer.
The Detroit Institute of Arts takes the “s” at the end of its name seriously. The immense Beaux Arts building on Woodward Avenue isn’t only a setting for a top-tier collection of visual works that include Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescoes, a van Gogh self-portrait, and ancient sculptures from Africa and Asia. It also opens the doors of its lecture halls, event spaces, and auditoriums for craft workshops, wide-ranging talks from historians and people who know how to draw really good cubes, film, and music. The latter two art forms find a home in the Detroit Film Theatre, a gilded, neoclassical auditorium that preserves a sense of coziness amid the grandeur.
During its 20th season of socially engaging theater in southwest Detroit, Matrix Theatre Company continues to create challenging and visually compelling work that includes the community it calls home. The year of six plays begins with Southwest Story (October 14–November 13), a Detroit take on the story of Romeo and Juliet that explores the conflict between African-American and Latino cultures but fails to solve the mystery of how Shakespeare kept his goatee so pointy.