Allison Siegel is the Resident Historian for BoweryBoogie.com, for which she earned the moniker “Pirate Preservationist.” The places she goes are not always safe, but they are truly fascinating. Some buildings she researches are no longer standing, but there are more than a handful that remain because of group preservation efforts.
Today we will visit an opera house on the Bowery whose history and presence still lingers despite the plan to turn it into a high-scale restaurant and condos. With 107 seats, the Amato Opera House was purportedly the world’s smallest Opera House. We present what remains.
Antinio “Tony” Amato was the founder of the Amato Opera Theatre which opened on September. 12, 1948, in the basement of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village. It later moved to the Bowery location in 1964. Originally a butcher, Amato left his job to pursue his passion in opera, and after stints at regional and summer opera companies, he founded the Amato Opera Theatre to give returning servicemen, many who were his students, a place to perform. A live performance can be seen on YouTube here and an image of the stage here.
The current owner, Steven Croman, plans to turn this historical structure, built in 1899, into residential units for “hedge-funders on the upper floors [plus penthouse] and one massive retail store” where the stage, orchestra pit, entrance and backstage are now.
The interior photos below will not be easy to stomach if you loved Amato as much as we did.
Inside the defunct Ladies’ Room:
The remains of an upstair shower:
A discarded set prop:
Doorway to nowhere; that’s a 20 foot drop on the other side:
More images of decay:
On our visit in summer 2013, the day was hot, the sun was blazing through the windows and while many believe most hauntings occur at night, we object wholeheartedly. As we made our way up the debris-filled stairs onto one of the upper floors of the Amato Opera House, there stood a piano. A sad reminder of the jovial nature of the place. It sat alone, decomposing. We ventured further up to find yet another decomposing piano. Both instruments looked as though they hadn’t been played in years.
At first we heard just a key, then a chord, then an adrenaline-inducing full B scale. For the remainder of this haunted encounter head over to The Spirits of the Amato Opera House on Bowery Boogie.
Get in touch with the author @RebelKnow.