The academy had a grand ball on January 26th, 1857, and after America’s first opera house premiered Verdi’s ?Il Trovatore? that same year, it has been in continuous use ever since.The “open horseshoe” shape design has offered more visibility than most opera houses to the audience seated on both sides of the balconies, surrounding a 5,000 pound crystal chandelier, which was loaded with gas burners, until it was electrified in 1900.
Legendary singers have performed there from Maria Callas to Enrico Caruso. The world renowned Philadelphia Orchestra spent more than 100 seasons in the academy, until it moved down the street to the Kimmel Center in 2001.
While we remember the Republican national convention in Philadelphia in 2000, the academy hosted the 1872 Republican convention.