The Opera House continues Marta's legacy of celebrating art in the desert with creative acts in an inspiring venue.
Scheduled tours of Amargosa Opera House operate 365 days of the year: 9am, 6pm (schedule subject to change)
$15 adult; $5 children
No reservations required.
For large groups, please contact us in advance:
In March 1967, on hiatus from touring her one-woman show across America, Marta Becket and her husband came to Death Valley Junction to repair a flat tire at the gas station, located across the street from the complex. While exploring the abandoned buildings, Marta peeked through a hole in the back door of Corkill Hall, the town’s old social hall, to find a room in terrible disrepair. Wooden floors were caked with muddy remains from floodwaters and walls were streaked with rust colored stains from the leaking roof. Marta later recalled that the building spoke to her, saying, “Take me. Do something with me. I offer you life!” She tracked down the property manager and inquired about renting the space and was told it could be rented for $45 per month as long as she was responsible for all repairs. The deal was secured with a promissory note and a dollar bill. She and her husband left for New York City to pack up their belongings and returned that August to begin a new chapter of their lives in the desert.
The transformation began immediately. They leveled the floor, extended the stage and painted the walls white. Marta’s first performance was on February 10, 1968. There was an audience of 12. Later that year, torrential rain hit the Junction and the Opera House flooded. As Marta removed 16 inches of muddy water, she looked to the walls and envisioned a Renaissance audience seated in gilded balconies and thought to her self, “I’ll paint an audience!” She began work right away, sketching out the back wall with the King and Queen of Spain holding court in the center. Other nobility and a bullfighting family sit to their left and right and two of Marta’s first cats – Tuxedo and Rhubarb – sleep peacefully on red velvet cushions in the bottom corners. Marta took four years to complete the walls and then began work on the ceiling, taking another two years.
Each part of the mural has a story to tell – from the Native American performers in the bottom alcoves, to the 16 ladies on the ceiling playing antique musical instruments, to the gypsies and artists making merry while ignoring the performance on the stage. Marta’s vision was to create a world of the past, in keeping with her repertoire of classical dance and pantomime, which originated in the courts of the de Medicis and King Louis XIV. Her 16th century audience was inspired by the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture of the building. She wanted to create an atmosphere that would prepare the audience for what they would soon see on her stage.
Today, Marta’s legacy continues through performances in her Opera House. Traditional performing arts including acoustic music, theatrical plays, opera and spoken word are held on every weekend during the season (October through May).