Metropolitan Opera House
The Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883. The first Metropolitan Opera House was built on Broadway and 39th Street by a group of wealthy businessmen who wanted their own opera house. In the company’s early years, the management changed course several times, first performing everything in Italian (even Carmen and Lohengrin), then everything in German (even Aida and Faust), before finally settling into a policy of performing most works in their original language, with some notable exceptions.
The Metropolitan Opera has always engaged many of the world’s most important artists. Christine Nilsson and Marcella Sembrich shared leading roles during the opening season. In the German seasons that followed, Lilli Lehmann dominated the Wagnerian repertory and anything else she chose to sing. In the 1890s, Nellie Melba and Emma Calvé shared the spotlight with the De Reszkes (Jean and Edouard), and two American sopranos, Emma Eames and Lillian Nordica. Enrico Caruso arrived in 1903, and by the time of his death had performed more times with the Met than with all the world’s other opera companies combined. American singers acquired even greater prominence with Geraldine Farrar and Rosa Ponselle becoming important members of the company. In the 1920s, Lawrence Tibbett became the first in a distinguished line of American baritones for whom the Met was home. Today, the Met continues to present the best available talent from around the world, and also discovers and trains artists through its National Council Auditions and Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.