For this week’s GoNOLA Find, visit what’s billed as a “church of the arts”: The Marigny Opera House, a deconsecrated former Catholic church-turned-arts venue whose varied program includes a puppet festival, inclusive spiritual gatherings that recall the space’s past, film screenings, dance performances and some actual opera (but not your typical opera house fare).
The space on St. Ferdinand Street in the Marigny neighborhood was originally Holy Trinity Catholic Church, and it was severely damaged by Hurricane Betsy in in the 1960s. Dave Hurlbert and Scott King bought the former church; originally the plan was to renovate the space through the nonprofit foundation they set up, use it to store Hurlbert’s grand piano and as an office space. They were approached to use space as a venue for the 2011 New Orleans Fringe festival, and this allowed them to see the church’s potential as an arts venue.
Hurlbert and King dealt with some permitting issues in the Opera House’s initial foray as an arts venue, but now the space has grown to have a robust schedule of arts events. The space has been the host of frequent performances by New Orleans dance companies, and now the Marigny Opera House has a resident dance company that will debut Oct. 24-26, 2014. The venue, along with Mudlark Public Theatre, also hosts the kid-friendly (but equally interesting for adults) Giant Puppet Festival in the spring; Shotgun Cinema, a nonprofit film organization in New Orleans, hosts screenings there; and there’s also Sunday Musical Meditations for those who want to get in touch with the space’s spiritual origins. The space also hosts opera performances, but from groups like the 9th Ward Opera Company that feature young and up-and-coming performers, or new or lesser known works.
The Marigny Opera House has retained most of the gothic elements of the former church, making for a venue where everything inside feels special. Be sure to visit this New Orleans gem and worship the arts.