Ashley Burnett 2017-03-06 13:11:27
The Metropolitan Opera celebrates 50 years at its Lincoln Center location with a swath of events, exhibits and world-class performances. In the storied history of the Metropolitan Opera, it was the institution’s move to the Lincoln Center in 1966 that truly led to its status as the world’s premier opera house. This year, the Metropolitan Opera (also known simply as the Met) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of that move with a special gala and exhibits dedicated to its history—and the alternative routes it could have taken. The Metropolitan Opera House was initially built in New York City in 1883, but it eventually became apparent that the location on 39th and Broadway had inadequate space for the productions the Met desired to put on. “It was pretty obvious about 25 years after they built the [original] house that it didn’t have adequate backspace,” explains Peter Clark, director of archives for the Metropolitan Opera. For years, there were plans to move the Met to another location—including a possible spot at Rockefeller Center—but all of them fell through, until it finally made its move to Lincoln Center in 1966. “Having the Met finally get a home that was technically adequate [for] theater, was probably the crux event in … [its] history,” Clark says. “It changed pretty much everything about the company: it changed the types of performances we could do, it changed the amount of money that it cost to put on a production, it changed the amount of people involved.” To honor the Met’s anniversary, Clark, along with a curator and staff team, worked for six months to put together two special exhibitions that are located in the lobby area of the opera house and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. It’s also open for ticket holders during all performances throughout the remainder of this year’s season. The first exhibit documents the move to Lincoln Center and features archived photos of the Met. It also discusses the possible moves that could have happened, including the aforementioned move to Rockefeller Center, and other alternative sites for the new opera house. The second exhibit discusses the nine productions that opened the year the opera house made its way to its new home, including the world premiere of “Antony and Cleopatra,” an opera created by American composer Samuel Barber that is based on Shakespeare’s adored play. The Met’s golden anniversary celebrations will culminate with a gala at the Lincoln Center on May 7, at which attendees will view an exceptional repertory by some of the greatest opera performers today. The curated operatic selections to be staged include excerpts from “Porgy and Bess,” “Samson et Dalila,” “Les Troyens,” “I Lombardi” and, for the first time since the house opened, “Antony and Cleopatra.” The event, which will also feature a special gala dinner following the performances, is an occasion to honor the successes of years past and look ahead to the prosperous seasons to come. Showstoppers Celebrate the Metropolitan Opera House’s 50th anniversary with these exciting performances: “ROMÉO ET JULIETTE” Through March 18 Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers take the stage in a new production of the enduring dramatic tale. “FIDELIO” March 16 - April 8 Beethoven’s only complete opera takes place in an unspecified contemporary setting as a wife courageously fights for her husband’s freedom. “LA TRAVIATA” Through April 14 In this pinnacle of the soprano repertoire, Violetta, a tortured courtesan and beloved heroine, struggles to find happiness with her lover. “DER ROSENKAVALIER” April 13 - May 13 Richard Strauss’s most popular opera, set in the Vienna of yore, tells the story of an older woman entwined in a love affair with a younger man. “DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER” April 25 - May 12 Known in English as “The Flying Dutchman,” this performance tells Richard Wagner’s other-worldly tale of a ghostly sailor forced to wander the sea in search of a love that will set him free. Clockwise from top left: the Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway and 39th Street in the 1890s; the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City today; the Met’s auditorium
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