Pageant And Masque Of St. Louis
In 1914, Art Hill in Forest Park was the scene of an elaborate celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis.
It took the form of a review of the city's history called The Pageant and Masque of St. Louis.
Viewed by audiences of more than 100,000 persons nightly, it used all of Art Hill as an open-air theater. (shown above). The production ran for four evenings, from May 28 through June 1, 1914.
It was played by a cast of 7,500 upon a vast stage that was built over the Grand Lagoon at the base of Art Hill. The pageant depicted the story of the city's early years, beginning with the Mound Builders and concluding with the end of the Civil War.
Beginning at twilight, it lasted two hours and, after an intermission, the nocturnal performance of the Masque took place under artistic illumination. This was a symbolic presentation which interpreted the relationships of St. Louis to the life of America and humanity. While not in the category of light entertainment, newspapers said, "the performances held the great audiences spellbound with interest and awe."
Organization of this successful theatrical and musical enterprise required more than a year's preparation by the Pageant Drame Association of local civic leaders.
Ultimately, the founding of the Municipal Opera can be indirectly attributed to the 1914 event.