Piper's Opera House played a
prominent role in the lives of the residents of the Comstock during
the gold rush. Piper's was the scene of not only entertainment, but
also of important political and social events in Virginia City,
Nevada from the 1860s until 1900. The third opera house stands in
Virginia City and is being restored.
The book contains 87 pages with
40 photographs and illustrations, and a map of the area of the
sites of Maguire's and Piper's Opera Houses, a Bibliography and
Fortune seekers Tom Maguire and
John Piper rushed to Virginia City, Nevada around 1860 after the
discovery of gold on the Comstock. Piper and Maguire were not
frenzied prospectors or miners. They were businessmen. They arrived
in town separately, yet within short order Piper acquired Maguire's
local entertainment business.
Despite their name, Nevada opera
houses rarely offered opera. These theaters were venues for other
types of amusements. Maguire offered a diverse range of comedies,
melodramas, operettas, burlesque and minstrel and vaudeville shows
to Shakespeare's plays to lecturers and political debates on the
issues of the day.
Similar to the way Maguire
offered entertainment, Piper booked a variety of shows, political
events, lectures, plays, musical performances and other types of
amusements for a one night stand or for a weekend. When Piper
acquired the theater in 1867, he leased it for seven months to Max
Walter. Walter booked the popular plays of the day relying heavily
on Shakespeare productions.
"Piper's Opera House has been
described as the most significant vintage theater in the west.
Cafferata explains why." — Bill Beeson, Artistic Director, Piper's
"The history of Virginia City's
renowned Piper's Opera House is shrouded in myth and mystery and
sometime downright duplicity." — Guy Rocha, Nevada State
"A carefully researched and
engrossing account of Virginia City's heyday, and the jewel in its
crown - Piper's Opera House." — Debbie Hinman, Reno