The Magnificence of the Metropolitan Opera House

The Metropolitan Opera House, affectionately known as "The Met," is a breathtaking opera house situated in the heart of New York City's Upper West Side. Designed by the renowned architect Wallace K. Harrison, it opened...

Metropolitan Opera House (Lincoln Center)

The Metropolitan Opera House, affectionately known as "The Met," is a breathtaking opera house situated in the heart of New York City's Upper West Side. Designed by the renowned architect Wallace K. Harrison, it opened its doors to the public in 1966, replacing the original Metropolitan Opera House from 1883. With its capacity to seat approximately 3,850 people, it stands as the largest repertory opera house globally, hosting both the Metropolitan Opera Company and the American Ballet Theatre during the summer months.

A Dream Come to Life

The journey to the creation of this magnificent opera house began in the mid-1920s when plans for a new home for the Metropolitan Opera started taking shape. However, financial challenges and the stock market crash of 1929 disrupted these plans. Eventually, in the 1960s, the vision became a reality when the Metropolitan Opera House was built as the centerpiece of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts—a visionary project led by Robert Moses.

The lobby staircase from above

An Architectural Marvel

The Metropolitan Opera House stands as a testament to architectural excellence. Clad in white travertine, its east facade boasts a striking series of five concrete arches and a magnificent combination of glass and bronze, towering 96 feet above the plaza. The building spans 14 stories, with 5 stories located underground.

Lobby chandeliers

Inside, the opulent lobby welcomes visitors with its breathtaking design. The lobby features two stunning murals by the renowned artist Marc Chagall, titled "The Sources of Music" and "The Triumph of Music." The grand cantilevered stairway, made of concrete and terrazzo, connects the various levels of the lobby, creating an impressive architectural feature. The lobby is also adorned with eleven crystal chandeliers that resemble constellations, adding an ethereal touch to the space.

A Stage Fit for Grandeur

The auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera House is a sight to behold. Its fan-shaped design, adorned in gold and burgundy, exudes elegance. The magnificent dome-shaped ceiling showcases over 4,000 squares of gold leaf, and the auditorium is graced by 21 crystal chandeliers. The walls are paneled in kevazingo bubinga, a rosewood known for its acoustic qualities.

View of auditorium from stage

The Met's auditorium is renowned for its exceptional acoustics. Even from the top level, located 146 feet away from the stage, every delicate musical moment can be heard with remarkable clarity. The proscenium, measuring 54 feet in width and height, features a stunning custom-woven gold damask curtain—an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Above the proscenium stands an untitled bronze sculpture by Mary Callery.

Behind the scenes, the Metropolitan Opera House boasts a stage complex that is one of the largest and most advanced in the world. With hydraulic elevators, motorized stages, and rigging systems, the stage can accommodate the most complex and grandiose productions. The stage extends 80 feet deep, with a width of 103 feet, and contains various features such as slipstages, a turntable, and motorized battens. The versatility of the stage enables the seamless rotation of up to four different opera productions each week.

A Cultural Icon

The Metropolitan Opera House is not solely dedicated to opera. During its hiatus, it welcomes the renowned American Ballet Theatre for its annual Spring season. Additionally, the opera house has hosted numerous touring opera and ballet companies from around the world, including the Kirov, Bolshoi, and La Scala companies. The venue has also been graced by iconic performances by acclaimed musicians such as Vladimir Horowitz and Barbra Streisand.

Metropolitan Opera House (Lincoln Center)

A Living Legacy

As of its 50th anniversary in May 2017, the Metropolitan Opera House had celebrated over 11,000 performances and 164 separate operas. Legendary conductor James Levine had conducted 2,583 of these performances, and esteemed tenor Charles Anthony had sung there an astonishing 2,296 times. The Met's rich history also includes broadcasting over 1,900 live radio performances and numerous television broadcasts and movie theater screenings.

Visit the Met

If you find yourself in New York City, make sure to visit the Metropolitan Opera House. Whether you're a passionate opera enthusiast or simply seeking a truly awe-inspiring experience, the grandeur and artistic mastery of this opera house will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

References:

  • Affron, Charles; Affron, Mirella Jona. (September 22, 2014). Grand Opera: The Story of the Met. University of California Press.
  • Newhouse, Victoria. (June 15, 1989). Wallace K. Harrison, Architect. Rizzoli.
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