Friday, June 19, 2009

Top 10 Fridays: Haunted Opera Houses (North American edition)

With such a powerful array of emotions being played out on opera stages, it's not difficult to imagine how some hate to leave the excitement of opera houses, prefering to linger there as long as they could.

But to remain there for all eternity?

This week's Top 10 looks at (reported) Haunted Opera Houses with their ghostly performers continuing to tread the boards in the afterlife and audience apparitions with their phantom applause and laughter long after the lights have gone down and the building is empty.

Take our poll located on the right sidebar and let us know which Haunted Opera House you think is the creepiest.

1. Woodstock Opera House, Woodstock Illinois
There roams the spirit of a beautiful actress nicknamed “Elvira”. She reportedly committed suicide by jumping from the tower of theatre. She makes her presence known by props falling or disappearing off the stage. Or you can check out her favourite spring-loaded seat #113 slowly lowering by itself. 8% of vote

2. Central City Opera House, Colorado
A friendly ghost known as Mike Dougherty, who had drank himself to death. You'll know he's around by the strong waft of alcohol, nudges on the shoulder or hair being touseled from behind. Or catch him as flickering orbs of lights. 4% of vote

3. Orpheum Theatre, Memphis TN
The spirit of a little girl named Mary resides here. And just like a little girl, she giggles and plays pranks. Doors open and close by themselves and the pipe organ is played by unseen hands. Folks there hear small footsteps going up and down the aisles. Mary also has a favourite seat C-5. 6% of vote

4. Springer Opera House, Columbus GA
Edwin Booth, a Shakespearean actor when he was alive, appears suddenly on centre stage, moves stage props and taps people on the shoulder. The spirit, who's portrait still hangs at the opera house, also slams doors and locates missing wardrobe pieces. He was also the brother of John Wilkes Booth. (who you know as Abraham Lincoln's assassin) a supernatural 83% of vote

5. Grand Opera House, Dubuque Iowa
There are an unknown number of ghosts that refuse to leave here. Various encounters include singing from the empty stage, phantom footsteps and unexplained changes in temperature. On the technical front, there are reports of outages, spotlights falling or moving in all directions and lights turning on and off. 3% of vote

6. Canmore Opera House, Canmore AB
Yay, Canada! “Sam”, an older gentlemen ghost is seen wandering around or sitting in third seat of third row where he catches the performances. You may also find objects being misplaced. 3% of vote

7. Fulton Opera House, Lancaster Pennsylvia
The opera house was built partially over foundations of the old Lancaster jail where Conestoga Indians were kept for their own safety, before a mad mob rushed the jail to torture and kill them. Now, they make their presence known by ghostly lights and ghostly screams, phantom applause and the piano playing by itself. 3% of vote

8. Cabot Theatre, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The opera house is reputed to be haunted by the founder Clair Richardson, who makes himself known with flickering lights, moving props, falling exit signs, and most famously driving shows he doesn't like to a halt with technical problems. That might be because he swore the company would only continue, "over my dead body", so they placed his ashes under the stage! The dedicated spotlight on his urn below the stage is checked every night as part of the regular pre-show run down, because if the light goes out...old Clair acts up! 8% of vote

9. Orillia Opera House , Orillia ON
Another Canadian one! Here lives the spirit of actor Glenn Gould and he'll let you know he's around by unexplained piano playing, flushing toilets, cold spots and chilling screams. 3% of vote

10. Washington Opera House, Maysville, Kentucky
Dancer Loretta Stambo reported collapsed onstage from pneumonia and later died. Theatre folk have witnessed a coke bottle exploding all of a sudden in a dressing room. But that's nothing compared to how unnerved people feel looking at the painting of Loretta in the lobby. They swear that the eyes in the painting follow them around. 3% of vote

So next time you're at the opera and the hair on your neck stand up, it may NOT just be from the air con. Cuz everyone knows, once you get bit by the showbiz bug, it's very difficult to give it up.

Check back here next week for the hair-raising results. Spooky.

**Thanks for voting in last week's Top 10 poll for Top 10 Opera Fails! I'm sure this comes as no surprise, but the biggest fail is Talkers at the opera, followed closely by Stinkers. Tied at third place were the Ringers/Beepers and Latecomers.**

~ Ling Chan

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