The Metropolitan Opera House Opens

The Metropolitan Opera House (Met) in New York City, then located on Broadway at 39th Street in New York City, opened on October 22, 1883, with a performance of Charles Gounod's Faust, the tale of a German sorcerer who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge, power, youth, and love. The opera, although composed in French and based on Goethe's German poem, was sung on this occasion in Italian, the favored language of the Met's early management.

The Metropolitan Opera has attracted talented artists from around the world. In its early days, the Met was graced with such legendary conductors as Arturo Toscanini and Gustav Mahler, and the great singers Enrico Caruso, Geraldine Farrar, and Christine Nilsson. Since 1966, the Metropolitan Opera Association has made its home at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City; opera vocalists such as Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Marian Anderson, and Leontyne Price have performed there.

The Metropolitan Opera Association of New York City, founded in April 1880, is a major presenter of all types of opera including Grand Opera. Peter Gelb is the company's general manager and James Levine is music director.

The Metropolitan Opera is America's largest classical music organization, and annually presents some 220 opera performances. The home of the company, the Metropolitan Opera House, is considered by many to be one of the premier opera stages in the world, and is among the largest in the world. The Met, as it is commonly called, is one of the twelve resident organizations at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The Met presents a wide array of about twenty-seven operas each year in a season which lasts from mid-September through May. The operas are presented in a rotating repertory schedule with seven performances of four different works presented each week. Performances are given in the evening Monday through Saturday with a matinée on Saturday. Several new opera productions are offered each season. Sometimes these are borrowed from or shared with other major opera houses. The rest are given in revivals of productions from previous seasons.

Did you knowa…I make every month de arrangements for de Italian opera? It is ten times so much refreshing as de movies…It is marvelous. It causa to swell de heart…you never heard de music so sweeta. Yes, de words are de words of Italy. But de fine music, it isa de same in all language. It conquer de spirit. It maka to soar de soul…De price is fifty cents.”

— "Interview with Vito Cacciola," Merton R. Lovett, interviewer