At a ceremony held at the Lyric Opera House yesterday, the 116-year-old theater was officially renamed the "Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric." A mouthful, for sure, it acknowledges the couple's $3.5 million donation to the Lyric's $12.5 million capital campaign.
The renovations, which are already under way, will make the theater a viable venue for largescale theater productions and opera. "With a larger stage and modern stage technology, we will be able to bring to Baltimore bigger, more sophisticated productions in a safer and more economically efficient manner," said Lyric Foundation Board Chair Edward J. Brody.
After remarks by Brody and elected officials such as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Patricia Modell—an actress on stage and television during the 1950s and 1960s—quipped that "a city without a theater is like a big party without any conversation" and recalled being awed by the Lyric's warmth, hominess, and superior acoustics. "When I saw the things we could do here, with this help, I said, `Art, we have to do it,'" recalled Patricia, as her husband smiled. "I love the theater. It's a joy for people, and especially in these times, we need as much joy as we can have. You can go to the theater and come out feeling better and stronger. So Art and I are only too happy to give this—we didn't want our name on the thing, but he insisted." She pointed to Brody, and everyone laughed.
"Art and I are happy and proud to do this," she concluded, and after a standing ovation, everyone adjourned to the theater lobby for lunch.
[photo: John Lewis]