Gift Expands Seating Possibilities at Detroit Opera House

A gift from long-time Michigan Opera Theatre supporters Floy and Lee Barthel will allow for increased seating flexibility and social distancing at the Detroit Opera House.
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New floor deck at Detroit Opera House
New stage decking at the Detroit Opera House will offer more flexible seating options. / Photo courtesy of Michigan Opera Theatre

A gift from long-time Michigan Opera Theatre supporters Floy and Lee Barthel will allow for increased seating flexibility and social distancing at the Detroit Opera House.

MOT used the gift, the amount of which was not disclosed, to acquire a 9,100-square-foot deck for the Detroit Opera House from Levitation Staging in Grand Rapids. The deck creates a floor that covers the theater’s main-level seating and includes several configurations to connect with the stage.

“For several years, MOT has rented a deck from Levitation Staging for use in the opera house, and it has become a highly preferred feature for events and weddings, including our own annual gala,” says Wayne S. Brown, president of MOT.

“During this time of social distancing, we are pleased to acquire our own deck that offers a permanent solution for providing enhanced staging options for our guests and events. We are very appreciative to Floy and Lee Barthel for once again demonstrating their tremendously generous and long-term support of MOT.”

Lee Barthel serves on the MOT board, and he and Floy are both trustees. They are among MOT’s leading individual donors whose contributions have supported the costume shop and the SkyDeck as well as numerous gifts in support of MOT’s administrative offices and Volunteer Association.

“Investing in Michigan Opera Theatre has been one of our great joys, and we are so pleased that we could help MOT take advantage of this great opportunity for the benefit of the Detroit Opera House and the community,” says Lee Barthel.

The stage deck consists of more than 1,700 individual components, including specially built shapes, designed to have minimal impact on the seating and architecture of the opera house. The deck requires three semi-trailers to transport, eight to 10 hours to load in, and 18 stagehands to assemble.

Opera patrons will have to wait to see the new stage deck in operation since the MOT has cancelled the remainder of the 2019-2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MOT is offering patrons who have purchased tickets to the performances the option to donate their tickets, exchange them for a future performance, or receive a full refund. Ticketholders will receive further notifications via email and are encouraged to follow the directions listed rather than calling the ticket office. Information and refund/donation instructions also can be found here.

“While we are disappointed that circumstances have necessitated the cancellation of our spring season, the health and safety of our guests, artists, staff members, and entire community are our greatest priority,” says Brown. “We appreciate the support and patience of our patrons and donors, as well as our corporate, foundation and community partners in light of this difficult decision.”

 

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