The Schwartz Opera House is the center of the cultural scene in Rocaterrania’s capital city, Ciudad Eldorado (“The Golden City”), so dubbed by Kuhler for the golden fall hues of the Aspen trees in the Colorado Rockies. The Schwartz was built by Emperor August Phillippe Romanovski to the exact specifications of his wife Empress Consort Mary Catherine de Rochelle, who was born in Belgium but raised in Paris—where she had frequented the opera.
Kuhler often said that during his childhood in Rockland County, NY, his Belgian-born mother Simonne was far more interested in attending the Metropolitan Opera in New York City than spending time with her son. As a teenager, isolated on the barren KZ Ranch with his parents, Kuhler fantasized about becoming a violinist in the opera. He built a crude violin out of scrap wood, taught himself to play, and imagined the Schwartz Opera House, which he began illustrating.
Ciudad Eldorado soon grew around the Schwartz, as eventually did the entire nation of Rocaterrania. Kuhler later speculated that his fantasy of becoming a star violinist in the opera was an unconscious desire to earn his mother’s love.
The interior of the Schwartz was inspired by the opulent Palais Garnier, home to the Paris Opera. The exterior was inspired by the French Renaissance architecture of the Charles M. Schwab House, a mansion built for the steel magnate on the Upper West Side in New York City.