Death Valley Junction, California: Amargosa Opera HouseIn the middle of the desert, an opera house preserved by a frustrated ballerina still hosts shows by local performers on Saturday nights.
Visitor Tips and News About Amargosa Opera House
The opera house is a wonderful find. Try the little cafe attached to the hotel - it has great homemade coconut cream pie. And check out Amber's drawings. She works in the cafe and does pencil drawings as a hobby, and they are really excellent.
Overall, I loved Death Valley Junction. It's quirky, unique and very friendly.[Fergus O'Callaghan, 12/14/2010]
Death Valley's only opera house suffered a serious blow when owner/performer Marta Beckett's husband (and co-performer) Tim Willett, 77, died of a stroke on April 15, 2005. Tom was the Amargosa Opera House's comic relief, appearing on stage in a ballerina's tutu and other flamboyant outfits and roles.... [05/03/2005] Complete News Story
Amargosa Opera House
We just visited Marta Beckett's Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction, California. As an oft discussed topic in the Travel section of the New York Times, we decided to check it out ourselves. It was everything that we thought it would be -- an almost 80 year old ballerina formerly of New York City puts on a kooky, allegorical show with deeper references than our over-heated brains could process. Much of the show was her "dance pantomines" but in the last two acts, she dances on point. Thrilling and wonderfully refreshing. There's an honesty and innocence that's hard to describe.
You can't beat the location either -- a U-shaped complex of buildings sits alone in the desert, arising like a forgotten toy. The hotel is charming, clean, and filled with beautiful murals. The Opera House itself is overwhelming, filled to the brim with beautifully executed murals of an audience of nobles and commoners.[Wendy Carr, 05/22/2004]
Marta is alive and well. We've seen her show twice this season (winter 2002), and she's as kooky as ever. The tickets are now $15, and she sells out quite often (there was a full TOUR BUS the last time we went). Her husband has been replaced by her pal, Thomas Willett, who dresses up to play various roles in her plays, including women's parts (the funniest). She does two different shows per season (a reprise from the previous year and a new one).[Di LaPlume, 04/26/2002]
I've been to Marta's performances a couple of times, most recently in 2000. She must be nearing 80, but still keeps going! Marta does these "ballet-pantomimes". This is one of those things you have to see to believe. Really, she's not very good, but she gets extra points for sheer persistence (30+ years), and for so obviously enjoying what she's doing. Definitely the most interesting thing going on at night anywhere near Death Valley. Most performances are sold out before showtime, so call first for reservations. We were able to get in each time by calling the day of the performance. The hotel has a half dozen rooms that are renovated enough to stay in. A friend of mine stayed there once and enjoyed it, but I've always thought it was a little too spooky to stay the night.[Ann Patterson, 04/26/2002]