Derby History Quiz

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Sterling Opera House

The Opening Performance - "Drifting Apart" - Really!

The first performance at the sterling Opera House bore a name that was possibly more fitting for the relationship between Derby and Ansonia than the play itself. The play by James A. Herne was entitled "Drifting Apart" and was "a melodramatic temperance play without the traditional didactic sermons preaching the evils of drink". We're not sure how well the 5 act play was received in Derby, but the drama playing out surrounding the building of the theater itself culminated shortly thereafter with the Borough of Ansonia, home of the Ansonia Opera House, securing legislation to separate itself from Derby resulting in the incorporation of Ansonia and Derby as separate cities.

Not everyone was thrilled with the building of the Sterling Opera House. Many in the Borough of Ansonia saw no need to build such a structure since they already had a perfectly good theatre (Ansonia Opera House) on Main Street in the Borough of Ansonia. Many in the borough felt that the city fathers in Derby often neglected their Ansonia constituents, and the building of the Sterling was just one more - and final - affront. They petitioned the state and by 1893, Ansonia and Derby were incorporated as separate cities.

Getting back to that first performance, the play by James A. Herne was one of many that he penned. Mr. Herne had some success in creating plays that would be "serious, thoughtful and true". However this particular play was a financial failure for him.

Correct answers were received from: Ann Searles, Joseph DiRienzo, Mary Seuss, Mildred Fatterusso, Nick from Terryville, Michael J. Regan, Allan Brozek, Jack  Vagnini, L. A. Cwanek, Jack Sheehy, Fred Grant, Marc J. Garofalo, Stephanie Anne D'Onofrio, Dave DeRosa, Bonnie Berman, Kimberley Shelton, Jim Norris, Jean Graboski Malone, and Rich DiCarlo.

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