Don't let the modern-looking exterior fool you. The false front hides a historic hall that dates from 1894. Baroque touches, high ceilings and gilded effects give a feeling of efficient elegance. With more than 2,500 seats, the Lyric Opera House is bigger than any Broadway theater. The sight lines can be a bit of a problem, in part because the venue's geometry is closer to a concert hall than a modern opera house. Views from the mezzanine can be an awkward angle, and the stage can seem awfully far away from the rear of the balcony level.
It is, however, a great hall in which to hear music. Leo Beranek's book "Music, Acoustics, and Architecture" describes it as "a clear, warm, intimate sound with good brilliance." What else could you want for an opera? But modern Broadway-type musicals tend to be highly amplified affairs, which makes the acoustic quality of the hall somewhat less critical.
The Lyric is home to the Baltimore Opera with its five-opera season. It also hosts national touring companies of musicals like "Guys and Dolls" and special productions like "Riverdance." Individual artists are booked from time to time as well.