EMAIL THIS PAGE!



CELEBRATING the MET's
125 YEARS

ABOUT THE MET GALA CD
BUY THE CD

THE MET-THEN and NOW

125th OPENING NIGHT
GALA


SEASON HIGHLIGHTS



PLAY/PAUSE background music

NOW OPEN!
FanFaire's all-new
AMAZON STORE

- where we make shopping
for everything about
CLASSICAL MUSIC and OPERA
easy for you!


USA    UK    DE   FR

SUPPORT FanFaire!
CLICK on any of the above
links whenever you buy from
Amazon.com. >



ARCHIVE OF
FANFAIRE GIVEAWAYS



AUDIOFILES
MUSICPLANNER
PRESS ROOM
NEW RELEASES
FOOD & MUSIC
SITE MAP
STORE


Buy sheet music



back to TOP



Then and now: the world's MOST IMPORTANT OPERA HOUSE

One hundred twenty-five years after the curtain rose on Faust, its inaugural opening program, the METROPOLITAN OPERA remains the most important opera house in the world. Incorporated in 1880, it opened its doors to the public on October 22, 1883, born of the largesse of the turn-of -the century's nouveaux-riches for whom money alone failed to secure the much coveted social affirmation that came with entitlement to opera boxes at the ACADEMY OF MUSIC, the era's center of culture where each season since 1854 the elite - descended from old money- schmoozed as they worshipped high art, and over which they held absolute sway.  Thus for the MET,  the order of the day was rather like "If you can't join 'em, beat 'em!" And beat 'em they did. For only three years later, the ACADEMY buckled; and the METROPOLITAN became its unintended but logical successor as THE powerhouse of culture, having quickly gained prestige from performances that consistently drew only from the world's best artists and craftsmen, and thus of a quality that equalled or surpassed the ACADEMY's - a practice that continues to this day. Indeed, even today in the age of many great houses, a "diva/divo" is not deemed to have "arrived" until she/he can answer a positive, absolute "YES!" to the question "Have you sung at the MET?"

Of course, the 125 years were not without turbulence or turmoil - some brought about by unexpected disasters, such as the fire that gutted the opera house in 1892-not quite 10 years after it opened, some by the to-be-expected power plays and disagreements among those who called the shots as well as between management and labor, and some by both fabled and less seismic clashes of egos and temperaments-among artists and production participants, of which stories have been told in many a memoir or a book by opera cognoscenti.

And of course, in the case of the MET, the risk of turmoil carried its own reward (again giving truth to the cliché "No pain, no gain!") - in the form of glory days at the METROPOLITAN, of which there have been and will be countless many, both going back to the "golden age" of great voices of the distant past and lunging forward to the foreesable future - possibly a new "golden age" of unbelievable, amazing young voices, as the beloved mezzo-soprano and MET star FREDERICA VON STADE (recently interviewed by FanFaire) sees it.

One could date the MET's glory days of recent times back to the "BING" era, i.e., BING as in SIR RUDOLF BING, the MET's patrician and extremely knowledgeable, hard-working GENERAL MANAGER who reigned from 1950 to 1972* with, by many accounts, an autocratic hand and a congenial personality (e.g., VON STADE's humorous commentary on video). BING was a veritable godsend to the opera world: clearly preferring software for hardware, the Vienna-born scion to an Austrian steel industry magnate eschewed a career in the family business (that unfortunately foundered in WWI) as soon as he discovered early in his young life a preference for painting and singing over manufacturing steel, soon beating a path that would lead him in his 30s to the UK where-not as a singer-but as an active participant in the founding of the now famed Glyndebourne Festival and later as a crucial player in the Edinburgh Festival, he honed the skills in the production and management of opera that would make him THE best-known impressario, par excellence, of his time, if not of all time.

BING came to the MET at the relatively young age of 49, inheriting the rocky "Save the MET!" 15-year tenure of EDWARD JOHNSON, a Canadian tenor-turned-MET-General Manager. That he made a mark in MET history is, to say the least, understatement. The MET in his time was often called the "HOUSE OF BING" - a telling acknowledgement of the power that he wielded within the house.  That he made it to the cover of TIME Magazine twice in his tenure is eloquent testament to his celebrity status and the impact of his influence on society, and to the big role (now diminished as a victim of fast-changing times) that opera played in the culture of that particular period in the modern world.

It was BING after all who ushered the METROPOLITAN OPERA into the modern era, shepherding the momentous transition of the old MET on W. 39th St. to the new MET, climaxing in 1966 in the largely flawless move, celebrated with pomp and glory, to the LINCOLN CENTER on the Upper West Side where THE MET today stands strong as a centerpiece of culture, not only of New York but of the world - for indeed, in many more ways than one, it can be said that the MET belongs to the world. -
©GCajipe /FanFaire

* A CD of highlights from the METROPOLITAN OPERA GALA honoring SIR RUDOLF BING was a FanFaire GIVEAWAY in celebration of the MET's 125 years.


SOME MET MILESTONES in MODERN TIMES:

1977: Live from the MET - launch of a series of live TV broadcasts on PBS with a live telecast of La Bohème starring Luciano Pavarotti and Renata Scotto; a major highlight was the historic telecast of the complete Ring Cycle; renamed The Metropolitan Opera Presents in the 1980s when series shifted to taped performances, airing until the early 2000s.

1995: "MET Titles"
- a $2.7 million electronic libretto system providing the audience with a translation of the         opera’s text in English on individual screens mounted in front of each seat; installed under the guidance of General Manager Joseph Volpe.

2006: Metropolitan Opera Radio
- in partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio, a 24/7 opera channel carrying four evenings each week of live broadcasts from the current season plus archived broadcasts from past seasons during other hours.

2006: Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD - launch of broadcast of live MET performances via satellite into movie theaters as part of the company's effort to build revenues and attract new audiences; opening night gala of the 125th anniversary season (2008-09) to be broadcast in more than 600 theaters in the US/North America and some countries in Europe and Asia
.

2007: Great Performances @ The Met - a new TV series in partnership with PBS which in 2008 offered an unprecedented telecast of fourteen opera telecasts, the most ever presented in one season; revives the tradition set by the earlier series Live from the Met.

More breakthrough initiatives are expected to be forthcoming under the leadership of the MET's new General Manager, PETER GELB, who completes his first full season in 2009.




Photo credits: production photos - © Ken Howard, © Marty Sohl, courtesy Metropolitan Opera; others - Metropolitan Opera Archives


about FANFAIRE        VIDEO       NEW RELEASES    FOOD & MUSIC     EMAIL UPDATE     SITE MAP




Design and Original Content:
© 1997 - 2009. FanFaire LLC
All rights reserved