Season 1, Episode 3: Face the Music

The Academy of Music (27:46): During a luncheon Mrs. Astor discusses rumors of the new-moneyed families' desire to build a new opera house.

Mrs. Astor: “Have you heard about this opera business?”  

Marian Brooks: “What’s that?”

Mrs. Astor: “A group of new people mean to challenge the Academy of Music and create another opera house.”

Aurora Fane: “They can’t.”

Anne Morris: “They think they can. They met at Delmonico’s last week and decided that since they weren’t allowed boxes at the Academy, they were going to build their own house.”

Aurora Fane: “Do we know of whom this group of malcontents consists?”

Anne Morris: “The usual. JP Morgan, of course. The Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts. Every opportunist in New York.”

Mrs. Astor: “My lips are sealed.”

Aurora Fane: “No wonder they couldn’t get a box at the Academy.”

Marian Brooks: “But what is the point of shutting out these men and their families when they could probably build an opera house that’s 20 times better than the one we have now?”

A knowledge of history will most certainly include spoilers for season two, so read the following only if you want a sneak preview. The Academy of Music was a New York City opera house, located on East 14th Street. The 4,000-seat hall opened in 1854 and was rebuilt after a fire in 1866. The Academy’s opera season became the center of social life for New York’s elite, with the oldest and most prominent families owning seats in the theater’s boxes. It was supplanted as the city’s premier opera venue in 1883 by the new Metropolitan Opera House located on 39th Street – created by the nouveaux riches who had been frozen out of the Academy – and ceased presenting opera in 1886. It was demolished in 1926. 

The Academy of Music (1870).


Tony Pastor’s Theatre (34:05): In this scene, Jack and Bridget, two of the downstairs staff from the Van Rhijn household, attend a magic lantern show at Tony Pastor’s Theatre on Broadway. Movies used to only be visual and it wasn’t until later that specific music was integrated into the art form; live music often accompanied these “silent” films or, in this case, projected images. The music you hear is from twenty-first century company that puts together music for film and television productions called Plan 8 Music; for this scene you hear “Silent Movie Capers,” from their album, “Kidz Stuff: A Playground of Comedy Cartoon Kids Themes.”

Antonio Pastor (1837-1908) was a real-life American impresario and theatre owner with a strong commitment to attracting a “mixed-gender” audience, something revolutionary in the male-oriented variety halls of the early Gilded Age. He was known for “cleaning up” bawdy variety acts and presenting a clean and family-friendly genre that became American vaudeville.

What viewers of HBO’s “The Gilded Age” didn’t get to fully experience were the details included in the transformation of downtown Troy, New York, which was the film location for Tony Pastor’s Theatre. The production company allowed visitors to walk the outdoor set when they weren’t filming, and you could see two posters outside the entrance which advertised shows like, “Original Songs and Dances by Mr. Harry Kernell,” “Miss Bessie Grey, The favorite Vocalist, In Songs and Ballads,” and “Miss Kitty Allyn and Fred J. Huber,” which advertised violin and banjo duets.

Across the Troy town square was a row of billboards including one for Tony Pastor’s that was based on an actual 1878 poster for the Bowery Theatre and advertised “New York’s Favorite Vocalist Miss Jennie Hughes;” “In a Choice Selection of Vocal Gems, First Appearance of Avery and Lerue;” and “The Dashing Vocal Star and Change Artiste, Miss Carrie Lavarnie.”

Troy, NY.

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Troy, NY.Text

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Troy, NY.

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This was a window for Bloomingdale Brothers on set in Troy, NY  that wasn’t seen in the series.