Refurbished venue features 2,300 new seats

WASHINGTON — Just in time for its boffo Kennedy Center Honors, the center has pulled the wraps off of its Opera House following an 11-month, $20 million renovation.

It was the first major facelift for the 32-year-old house, the Kennedy Center’s principal workhorse for musical theater, ballet and opera.

Improvements included new lighting and environmental controls, sound system, expanded orchestra pit, new orchestra-level floor, better accessibility on all levels including a second elevator and a new cable for televised events. The auditorium now fully complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act, including 270 feet of new linear ramps.

In addition, the refurbished house features 2,300 new seats, 7,000 yards of new wall fabric and five miles of new red carpet.

Official unveiling was a free Millennium Stage event Nov. 19 that included excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” by the Catholic U. orchestra and chorus, featuring Harolyn Blackwell and Douglas Webster.

The paying public’s first glimpse will be the Kennedy Center Honors Dec. 7, followed by the return of the Kirov Ballet/Opera as part of the Tchaikovsky Festival.

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