Monday, January 18, 2010

STL DPB On The Road: Amargosa Opera House At Death Valley Junction

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Death Valley Junction lies just outside the national park. There was a hamlet to care for the needs of the borax workers in the area, who extracted and shipped the area's main mineral product. Like so many of the settlements around here, it withered with changing times.

In 1967, a New York dancer named Marta Becket and her husband drove through on their way to Los Angeles. Their car broke down. Becket fell in love with the remote, wildly beautiful ghost town. There was a small theater. Becket spent six years painting its walls and cieling as you see here, founding the Amargosa Opera House. She created her own show which she famously performed even if there was no one in the audience. I saw her perform in her late 70s. Her pure art and dedication was unmatched. Now 85, she stopped dancing at the Opera House when she could no longer pirouette. A younger dancer, Sandy Scheller, has taken up Becket's cause, performing a show inspired by the murals called If These Walls Could Talk. We saw it Saturday night, in the very middle of nowhere. People who attend these performances never forget them.


13 comments:

Bibi said...

I positively adore places like this, trompe l'oeil opera goer

Eleonora said...

Wondeful images and greatly informative post, I'd love to watch a show with the queen of Spain sitting behind me.
Ciao
Eleonora

Olivier said...

belle photo et magnifique l'intérieur de ce petit theatre

brattcat said...

What a fantastic story you've told here in words and images. Thanks!

Chuck Pefley said...

Fascinating story! How fortunate to get to attend a performance. You've done justice to both the interior and exterior with your images.

Were there many people in the audience?

Sharon said...

I love this series. You are bringing back many memories of visits here.

Virginia said...

Well that is amazing. "stopped dancing because she could no longer pirouette", interesting. I never could pirouette! Glad you were able to see this and tell us all about it. And for the record, I think Marta was better off without that chump of a husband!

cieldequimper said...

Amazing, both for the location and all those Elisabethan collars. Well, maybe they are more Spanish than Elisabethan.

Luis Gomez said...

The three shots are wonderful. Love the light and the colors. Great series of shots. Beautiful!

Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» can't pirouette, either, Virginia!
(But for very different reasons than yours! It would, no doubt, be quite comical to watch him try!)

Inspiring story, with or without pirouette!

Jilly said...

how absolutely amazing, Bob. The painting in the theatre is extraordinary - so beautiful, evocative. What an experience.

Pierre said...

Oh Great! I was there with my sons in August 2009. Beautiful lost place. But we didn't have the chance to get inside. Thanks for this sneak peak.

Mo said...

Bob glad you got to see Sandy Sheller. Marta and Sandy are very close,this is an effort of love on her part. I am planning a trip out there soon finally see the Sandy's performance and the Opera House. I will send this link on to her, I'm sure she will get a kick out of this.