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The Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily
The Metropolitan Opera, New York City, USA - Famous Opera House
388    Dibyendu Banerjee    02/12/2023

The Metropolitan Opera House, located on Broadway at Lincoln Square and popularly called the Met, is part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, a huge complex opened in September 1966, replacing the original 1883 Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway and 39th Street, which did not have adequate stage facilities. However, although almost from the beginning it was clear that the opera house on 39th Street did not have adequate stage facilities, financial problems and the historical stock market crash of 1929, postponed the idea of relocation of the Metropolitan Opera and it was not until the Met joined hands with other New York institutions in forming Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts that the construction of a new home became possible. Designed by Wallace Kirkman Harrison, an American architect, the new building, equipped with a seating capacity of around 3850, along with the finest technical facilities, is the largest repertory opera house in the world, housing the Metropolitan Opera and hosting the American Ballet during the summer.

metropolitan opera new york USA

The designer of the grand project, Wallace Kirkman Harrison, planned to design the new opera house as the centrepiece of the new performing arts complex of eighteen block site and after a long process of redesigns and revisions, construction of Harrison's forty-third design of the Metropolitan Opera House began in the winter of 1963, the last of the three major Lincoln Center venues to be completed. The grand new building was officially opened on 16 September 1966, with the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, but months before that, the first public performance at the new Metropolitan Opera House, La fanciulla del West , an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, took place on 11 April 1966, attended by 3,000 high school students.

metropolitan opera new york USA

With its vast array of hydraulic elevators, highly mechanised stages, along with rigging systems and support space to smoothly facilitate the rotating presentation of up to four different opera productions, the Metropolitan Opera House is one of the most technologically advanced stages in the world. While its auditorium occupies a fourth of the interior area of the building, massive storage spaces below the stage provide sufficient room for storage within the opera house and large workshops for scenery construction, costumes, wigs and electric equipments, as well as kitchens, offices, an employee canteen and dressing room spaces. Apart from that, the building also contains two huge rehearsal halls of nearly the dimensions of the main stage, located three floors below the stage, for the use of rehearsals and providing space for full orchestra set ups.

metropolitan opera new york USA
The grand stairway

Situated at the western end of Lincoln Center Plaza and facing Columbus Avenue and Broadway, the 14 storey building of the Metropolitan Opera House, 5 of which are underground, is clad in white travertine with its east façade, towering 96 feet above the plaza, graced with its distinctive series of five concrete arches and large glass and bronze façade. The multi-storey lobby, dominated by a grand stairway that connects the main level with the lower level lounges and upper floors, is decorated with two murals, The Triumph of Music on the south wall and The Sources of Music on the north, created by the Russian-French artist Marc Chagall. The lobby also contains sculptures by Aristide Joseph Bonaventure Maillol and Wilhelm Lehmbruck, along with portraits of notable performers and others. However, the centrepiece of the lobby is an array of eleven crystal chandeliers resembling constellations with sparkly moons and satellites spraying out in all directions.

metropolitan opera new york USA

The fan-shaped auditorium, decorated in gold and burgundy with seating for 3,794 and 245 standing positions on six levels, also contains 21 matching chandeliers, the largest of which measures 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter, donated by the government of Austria, among which twelve are on motorized winches and raised to the ceiling prior to performances to clear the line of vision of the audience on the upper levels. The auditorium is known to be acoustically significant and small conversation and quiet moments in music can be clearly heard by the audience seating at the top of the Family Circle, around 146 feet (45 m) away from the stage. The 54 feet (16 m) wide and 54 feet (16 m) high square gold proscenium contains an untitled bronze sculpture by Mary Callery, known for his Modern and Abstract Expressionist sculptures.

metropolitan opera new york USA

Apart from staging mammoth operas, like Prokofiev’s War and Peace, Verdi’s Aida and Wagner’s 16-hour Der Ring des Nibelungen in three parts, the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House has also been home to numerous world premieres of operas and the US premiere of Nico Muhly's Two Boys. It also presented concerts by Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney and The Who, as well as recitals by American classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, American soprano Renée Lynn Fleming and others. In addition to regular Metropolitan Opera radio and television broadcasts, the opera house has been featured It also presented concerts by Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney and The Who, as well as recitals by American classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, American soprano Renée Lynn Fleming and others. In addition to regular Metropolitan Opera radio and television broadcasts, the opera house has been featured in a number of movies and television programs, which include the climax of Norman Jewison's 1987 film Moonstruck.

The Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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