The Return of the Orpheum Theatre, New Orleans

The Orpheum damage after Katrina
The Orpheum damaged after Katrina

It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Katrina did its damage to New Orleans. I can remember at the time, while living in Tennessee, that there were people coming to my hometown in hopes of rebuilding their lives. I was old enough to know the devastation Katrina had caused, but too young to appreciate the longevity of the damage in so many Louisianan families. When I had once asked an owner of a new creole food café why they came so far to resettle, they simply answered that they couldn’t remotely bare another hurricane in their lifetime and still have something to live for. They had lost their homes, their family members, even their life structure of simplicities like finding groceries, because that was gone too.  I think when you are not in a situation yourself you can assume people can easily build another house and buy more stuff, but what about the things that you cannot replace? What about the things that are not things at all, but the very normal surroundings that create your culture, your existence, your HOME. That is the loss that so many continue to endure to this day in New Orleans. Most recently I was also told about certain areas that until this year, patients were still receiving medical care out of FEMA trailers. Not new trailers, I am talking about the same ones that have been there since Katrina. They were just now (2105) able to build a new brick and mortar building for these patients to go to. The revitalization process is slow going, but there are several exciting things starting to take place! There is…the Return of the Orpheum Theatre…

Entrance to the Orpheum
Entrance to the Orpheum

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Among other things that were displaced by Katrina, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra was one of them. Their home at the Orpheum was destroyed and many musicians left to find work elsewhere. Fast forward to the grand re-opening of the Orpheum on September 19th, 2015. When I first entered the building, I had a sense of awe as I looked at the bright blue coloring with even the tiniest details of white and gold accents. I spoke with random strangers in line who were also giddy for the opening. Some had traveled from faraway places like Michigan, just to see the LSO take its rightful place back at its home, the Orpheum. I was seated in the front row of the balcony called the dress circle. It was the perfect seat for seeing and hearing absolutely everything. The fitting choice of music for the night, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection.’ I watched as the 70-member orchestra took their seats and the maestro took his stand. I cannot remember a quieter moment in such a large group of people. It was as if everyone was holding their breath in anticipation for the first note. You could feel the electricity in the air. The awe, the music, the soloists, the grand return was both ethereal and intoxicating. You could read the tears on others faces and the performers alike, this is what a revival feels like. This is what people coming together who love the universal language of music feels like. It engulfs your mind, grabs your heart, and speaks to your soul. THIS was the return of the great Orpheum Theatre in New Orleans.

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Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto and soloists Susannah Biller and Sasha Cook
Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto and soloists Susannah Biller and Sasha Cook
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View from my seat




Dress: Alice + Olivia/ Shoes: BCBGirls

Picture Credit of Damaged Orpheum theatre: Clio Associates LLC




  1. That hurricane was really something. I had no idea they were still using the old trailers for medical purposes. But so glad things are starting to sprout back up, to somewhat return to its former glory.

    1. I know! I had no idea either! We had a medical guy come speak to our school, which is a couple hours away. He was the one that told us about how many people still had to drive so far for medical care and even then it was in the old FEMA trailers. I am so happy that is now changing for them! He is part of a new group of doctors and physician assistants that are helping that community now.

    1. I agree! They really took the it to heart and made even the smallest details correct again. It’s truly remarkable and was an amazing experience to be there to join the celebration!

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