toronto opera house

Concertgoers in Toronto dismayed after Live Nation buys beloved live music venue

A long-running live music venue in a historic Toronto building has just been sold, and though the new owners are thrilled to add the theatre to its "portfolio," it doesn't seem that a single member of the public is pleased with the acquisition.

Opened first as a cinema in 1909, the Opera House has been a staple for all types of live performances in the city, and was one of the few independently-owned, mid-sized sites of its kind — that is, before it was bought out by Live Nation this week.

Located on Queen Street just east of Broadview, the 900 square-foot stage has hosted greats such as Nirvana, Metallica, Maroon 5 and the Black Eyed Peas over the years.

But now, many are worried that the takeover by Live Nation will mean the end to all that people loved about the venue.

Despite being such an iconic spot with a storied history (and a fancy name), the Opera House is one of the few spots you can catch a cheaper show in the city, and under an original proscenium arch, no less.

With a 950 capacity across a tiered main floor and a balcony, the business still feels humble, and has maintained a special brand of uniqueness that is at once grungy in its overall vibe but professional in the quality of its production quality.

In the hands of Live Nation, people seem to feel that the theatre will definitely change from its indie roots to something more corporate — and expensive.

Many have been bidding farewell to the Opera House as they knew it in the wake of the news, and expressing particular concern about Live Nation's growing stake in the city's live performance sector.

Fans are fearing the loss of inexpensive shows and of the spot's friendly feel, and worried about potentially negative consequences for musicians playing the venue, too, especially financially with a bigger player in charge.

"Why do we keep letting live nation take over every single venue ever. just makes their monopoly over the entire live music industry even stronger," one person wrote on Twitter. "It’s gotta be rough to be a new artist trying to actually make any profit on a tour these days."

"[This is] the worst news I've heard for small bands and music fans. Why is Live Nation on a crusade to buy up so many small venues in Ontario?" another asked. "First the Kee [to Bala], now Opera House? Something stinks. This is a complete monopoly and it's gross."

Others have simply reposted the news on social media with captions like "not a fan of this shit" and "booooo."

Some are also taking issue with even the wording of Live Nation's announcement, wondering if they even care about the musicians, the art, or the fans.

People have been quick to accuse them of being a real estate company above all else and a large business whose only concern is their bottom line, capitalism "and their 'portfolio.'"

The Elinas family, which transformed the venue into its current iteration in 1989, will stay on board to help with the Opera House's operations.

"We are honoured to have Live Nation Canada continue to bring the best in music, culture and fan experiences to our historic venue for years to come," they said in a statement.

Lead photo by

The Opera House

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