Though its official name, the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, is a dead giveaway as to its actual age, and the list of famous people long-dead who played there is oft-recited, it somehow comes as a surprise to think that the beloved and still-busy concert venue is turning 150 in 2019. Special events celebrating the Bardavon’s role as the community’s theater will be going on all year. The jubilee kicks off on Friday, February 1 – the exact 150th anniversary of the theater’s opening night (coinciding nicely with Poughkeepsie’s monthly First Friday event schedule) – with a free Open House for residents and visitors from 5 to 7 p.m.
Arriving guests will be greeted by the Juilliard-trained Wholly Brass Band performing a variety of tunes from across the decades. Henry’s at the Farm, of the Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa in Milton, will provide complimentary hors d’oeuvres; low-cost beverages will be available at the lobby bar. At 6 p.m., City of Poughkeepsie mayor Rob Rollison will join Bardavon executive director Chris Silva to lead a birthday toast and cut a cake designed by Frida’s Bakery to honor one of those legendary early Collingwood Opera House performers, Mark Twain.
Here’s the really cool part: Throughout the gathering, guests will be free to roam the theater, walk across the stage and visit dressing rooms, where crew and staff will be on hand to describe what happens behind the scenes and to share stories about the many performing artists and dignitaries who have visited during the building’s long history. House organist Juan Cardona will provide demonstrations on the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ, built for the Bardavon in 1927 and one of the few of its kind still in use in its original theater location. At 7 p.m., the Wholly Brass Band will lead guests through the stage door at the back of the theater to continue the birthday and First Friday celebrations at the King’s Court Brewing Company on Cannon Street.
Aside from the libations, it’s all free, so just show up (allowing time to find a parking spot). For updates on this and other festivities planned for the Bardavon’s sesquicentennial, visit www.bardavon.org.
Birthday Open House at the Bardavon, Friday, Feb. 1, 5-7 p.m., Free, Bardavon 1869 Opera House, 35 Market St., Poughkeepsie, www.bardavon.org