October 22nd, 1883 – Faust’s Demons Open “the Old Met”

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Sometimes referred to as “the old Met”, the Metropolitan Opera House opened on October 22nd, 1883, with a performance of Faust. It was located at 1411 Broadway, occupying the whole block between West 39th Street and West 40th Street on the west side of the street in the Garment District of Midtown Manhattan. Nicknamed “The Yellow Brick Brewery” for its industrial looking exterior, the original Metropolitan Opera House was designed by J. Cleaveland Cady. On August 27th, 1892 the nine-year-old theater was gutted by fire. The 1892-93 season was canceled while the opera house was rebuilt along its original lines.

In 1903 the interior of the opera house was extensively redesigned by the architects Carrère and Hastings. The familiar golden auditorium with its sunburst chandelier, and curved proscenium inscribed with the names of six composers (Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Gounod and Verdi), dates from this time. The first of the Met’s signature gold damask stage curtains was installed in 1906, completing the look that the old Metropolitan Opera House maintained until its closing.

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The old Met closed on April 16, 1966 with a sentimental gala farewell performance featuring nearly all of the company’s current leading artists. The long time Met star soprano Zinka Milanov made her last Met appearance that night and among the many invited guests was soprano Anna Case who had made her debut at the house in 1909. Despite a campaign to preserve the theater, it failed to obtain landmark status and the old Met was razed in 1967. It was replaced by a 40-story office tower, 1411 Broadway, intended to provide a steady income for the opera company. Designed by Irwin S. Chanin and completed in 1970, the building was later sold by the Metropolitan Opera and today it is owned by 1411 TrizecHahn-Swig LLC, a partnership of the TrizecHahn and Swig real estate companies. Since 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center has been home to the Metropolitan Opera. (Encyclopedia de Wiki)


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