Inside the Decaying Amato Opera House on the Bowery [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted on: June 20th, 2013 at 5:22 am by

amato-opera-2_wm

Nearly every news source that wrote about the closing of Amato Opera House used the following words: “sad,” loss,” “shame,” “devastating,” and so on.

Take a look at what this gem used to look like. From Playbill.com:

Amato, founder of the Amato Opera Theatre, a scrappy cultural landmark on the Bowery for decades, died Dec. 13. The cause was cancer. He was 91.

Antinio Amato was born on July 21, 1920, in Minori, on the Amalfi Coast, in Italy. He moved to New Haven with his family when he was seven. Smitten with opera, he left a job as a butcher to perform with regional and summer stock opera companies. He ran an opera workshop at the American Theatre Wing, where many of his students were returning servicemen. He conceived Amato Opera to give them a place to perform, reported the New York Times. Its first opera was Rossini’s Barber of Seville. It opened on Sept. 12, 1948, in the basement of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village. The troupe moved into its Bowery home in 1964.

Mr. Amato this year published a memoir, “The Smallest Grand Opera in the World.” Mrs. [Sally] Amato died in 2000, at 82; Mr. Amato disbanded the company in 2009. He sold the four-story building the opera worked out of for $3.7 million—a mark of how the once run-down neighborhood had changed from a place that could support a quixotic enterprise like Amato into a trendy and costly hot spot.

Bowery Boogie was granted exclusive (and extremely dangerous) access inside this decaying cultural landmark at 319 Bowery. A photo op we just couldn’t pass up. We were told on our visit – “hey, at least they’re not tearing it down.”

Right. Round of applause for small favors. No wrecking balls here; just giant sledgehammers.

The photos published below will not be easy to stomach if you loved Amato as much as we did.

The current owner, Steven Croman, plans to turn this historic 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.

One tremendous remnant was the day planner from 1963/1964 that fell out from behind one of the remaining pianos. Also, trust me when I tell you this – physically, no one remains, but spiritually? Whomever moves in is going to have one hell of a time.

Rest in pieces, Amato. The crowd gathered outside the door to peer inside elicited stories of experiences there and that alone reveals your indelible mark on the great Bouwerie Lane.

Recent Stories

Photo: ABC No Rio facebook page
DIY: Make Your Own Future Band Flyers for ABC No Rio’s Final Exhibit

You know all of those wouldn’t-it-be-great band names that you’ve come up with when you are in a slightly “altered” state? Here’s your chance to create that band. Well, sort of. ABC No Rio has been the host for many a hardcore punk band in the past. But their makeshift creative space, carved out of […]

Photo: The Guardian
The Strokes Announce Week-long Pop-up Shop at 352 Bowery

This week, hometown heroes The Strokes previewed new material from their forthcoming four-song EP. It’s the first concrete output since the band’s 2013 release, Comedown Machine. Future Present Past, as the record is dubbed, debuts on June 3 (though, currently on Spotify), via singer Julian Casablancas’ own Cult Records imprint. While native advertising has been […]

allen-bathhouse-asbestos-6
Back Inside the Long-Shuttered Allen Mall Bathhouse [PHOTOS]

The long-vacant Allen Mall Bathhouse is getting a deep scrub-down. As previously reported, the Parks Department last week commenced asbestos abatement activity with the purpose of returning the decades-old facility to community use. Namely, a “comfort station” that offers an affordable food stand and (possibly) bike repair station. Due to the ongoing work, we now […]

rivington-house
Tell Mayor de Blasio to Reverse the Rivington House Deal [PETITION]

It’s not enough that Councilwoman Margaret Chin introduced legislation to prevent another Rivington House situation from happening. Or that our public officials continue to assert that the deed restriction process will require more scrutiny in the future. Here’s what needs to happen: the $116 million deal needs to be rescinded, the lifted deed reinstated, and […]

calexico-space-1
City Marshal Comes for Calexico 9 Months After Closure; Croman Wants $12,500 for the Space

For the first time in forever, the roll-down security gates are open at 153 Rivington Street. The shutters have been perennially – more or less – closed since Calexico faded from the commercial landscape last July. Pasted to the window is the familiar computer-printed City Marshal seizure notice. The order was issued last week; better […]