Following the historical tradition of “everyone who was anyone played in Piper’s Opera House,” the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra is presenting an afternoon concert at the historic venue at 3 p.m. April 21.
The iconic western theater was an important stop during the Comstock Lode days, as Virginia City was a bustling city of 25,000.
Piper’s seated nearly 1,000 people, and, typical of “opera houses” of the 1800s, it rarely saw an opera. It was more of a music hall, but it had diverse bookings of political debates, revival meetings, society dances, boxing matches, a lynching, and a bear fight.
Piper’s hosted the best-known performers, including Lillie Langtry, Edwin Booth, Lillian Russell, John Philip Sousa, and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). As vaudeville became the new rage, Enrico Caruso, Marie Dressler, Al Jolson, and Harry Houdini all booked into Piper’s.
The current opera house is actually the third one built by German immigrant, John Piper. The two previous ones of 1868 and 1875 were destroyed by fire. Piper celebrated the grand opening of this opera house with a grand ball on March 6, 1885. It had a dance floor, carpeting, and hanging balconies.
Piper’s, at 12 B St., is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Tickets for the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra performance are $15 and available at gadZooks!, 1492 Highway 395 in Gardnerville; or online at cvpops.eventbrite.com; or by calling 775-843-0830.