Starlight Bowl September 26, 2020 at 08:08PM

The Starlight Bowl is an open air amphitheater located in Balboa Park. It was constructed for the 1935–1936 California Pacific International Exposition and seats 4,300. It was originally named the Ford Bowl because the automobile manufacturer sponsored outdoor concerts at the venue during the exposition by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the San Francisco Symphony, and other performers.[1]

Until 2011 Starlight Bowl was the outdoor home of the San Diego Civic Light Opera, also called Starlight Musical Theatre, which presented several Broadway musicals each summer. The Civic Light Opera company was founded in 1945. It was one of the oldest musical theatre companies in the United States.

The amphitheater sits almost directly under the landing path for San Diego International Airport. During musical performances the conductor had a set of lights that indicated the noise level from passing planes. When the noise reached a certain level the conductor signaled everyone to pause, and the musicians and performers froze in place until the plane passed.

The San Diego Civic Light Opera struggled financially in recent years and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 2012 there were no productions, and the company’s website was still live but was only advertising shows at other venues. As of 2016 the company’s email no longer works and its Facebook page has been removed. The unused Starlight Bowl theater is falling into disrepair and has been described as an "attractive nuisance".

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