The Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts began its life as the New Orleans Theater of the Performing Arts in January 1973. New Orleans-born Norman Treigle, a bass-baritone and international Opera star, inaugurated the Theatre with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa di Requiem, which he performed with the New Orleans Symphony.
Under the title “The Accommodations are Among the Finest to Be Found,” a theater brochure states that following the performance, ‘the raves were for the stunning new Theatre as well as for the Symphony’s usual fine performance. Everyone attending opening night agreed that the spectacular new facility was a fitting replacement for the old French Opera House which burned to the ground December 14, 1919.”
On December 1, 1993, amidst decades of world class theatre, opera, dance and musical performances, the City Council voted to rename the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in honor of the famed and beloved New Orleans gospel singer. Though ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, this New Orleans landmark in Armstrong Park is once again a cultural center of our unique city.