Metropolitan Opera Company
In Nov., 1903, Enrico Caruso made his debut and by the following season had assumed his place as the dominant figure of the company. Conried retired in 1908, and the following season saw the coming of Giulio Gatti-Casazza as director and Alfred Hertz, Gustav Mahler, and Arturo Toscanini as conductors; the name was now Metropolitan Opera Company. Toscanini's departure in 1915 was a serious artistic loss for the company. In Feb., 1935, during Gatti-Casazza's final season, Kirsten Flagstad made her debut. Herbert Witherspoon was appointed in May, 1935, to succeed Gatti-Casazza but died only a few weeks later. Edward Johnson was appointed in his place. In 1932 the Metropolitan Opera Association, Inc., was formed, and performances were thenceforth underwritten by public subscription. In 1940 the association bought the house from the Metropolitan Opera and Real Estate Company, marking the final step in transference from private to public sponsorship. In June, 1949, Rudolf Bing was appointed to succeed Johnson. A controversial figure, he brought many noted singers to the company, including Marian Anderson, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli, Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas, Birgit Nilsson, Tito Gobbi, and Leontyne Price. Among the many other great stars who have appeared at the Met over its many years are Marcella Sembrich, Dame Nellie Melba, Lilli Lehman, Feodor Chaliapin, Lauritz Melchior and Luciano Pavarotti. Metropolitan Opera concerts have been a regular feature on radio since 1931 and on television since 1977.
The new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1966 with a premier performance of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, written especially for the occasion. The new building featured acoustics superior to those in the old structure and a lobby decorated with murals by Marc Chagall. Bing retired in 1972. He was replaced by Goeran Gentele, who was killed in an automobile accident in July, 1972, a few weeks after he had succeeded Bing. The opera's assistant manager, Schuyler Chapin, was named manager (1972–75). From 1974 to 1981, John Dexter was director of production and Anthony Bliss executive director. Bliss then served as general manager (1981–85) and was succeeded by Bruce Crawford (1985–89), Joseph Volpe (1990–2006), and Peter Gelb (2006–). James Levine, who joined the Met as principal conductor in 1973, was artistic director from 1986 to 2004, then music director until 2016. Yannick Nézet-Séguin became music director in 2018. Today's Metropolitan Opera produces an average of 23 different operas in six languages each season, and in addition to producing works from the traditional operatic repertoire it has been a pioneer in premiering works by such contemporary composers as Philip Glass, John Corigliano, William Hoffman, and John Harbison. Its orchestra is considered one of the finest in the world.
See D. Hamilton, ed., The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia (1987).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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