Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Biography

Active: 1883 - ; New York, NY
Though the first season of the Metropolitan Opera came in 1883-1884, efforts to found the New York-based company began in 1880, led by the Morgan and Vanderbilt families. Its first season was launched with Henry Abbey as company manager and Auguste Vianesi as music director and conductor. Vianesi's tenure was short-lived. The Opera's board appointed its secretary, Edmund Stanton, to contract singers appropriate for German opera, which he ably Read more did. He also engaged Wagner protégé Anton Seidl to become music director and conductor in 1886.

Seidl worked well with the singers, and also helped shape the orchestra into a first-rate ensemble. Irish-American composer Victor Herbert, then one of the finest cellists in Europe, joined the orchestra in 1886. His wife, Therese Herbert-Förster, had been engaged to sing at the Met by Stanton. Solid and talented though the orchestra was in its early days, it was the singers, of course, who drew the attention. Indeed, some were making over $50,000 per year by the late 1890s, where orchestra players earned one-tenth that amount and less. Even in the 1930s orchestra members typically were offered starting salaries of less than $10,000, far less than that of the singers, but substantially more than most orchestras in the United and States and Europe were paying personnel.

In 1908, Toscanini made his debut at the Met. He would serve as music director for seven years, and arguably his tenure resulted in stronger musicianship in the orchestra's ranks, even though he did not always have full control. Indeed, Toscanini shared the podium for two years with Gustav Mahler and for another with Sicilian conductor Francesco Spetrino. The orchestra was then, as it had been throughout its early years, comprised largely of players from Germany. Gradually it would draw on other European nationalities and even employ a fair number of American players.

On December 25, 1931, the Metropolitan Opera began radio broadcasts, which have endured to this day. In this venue, the orchestra's role in performance became more conspicuous, since the audience could obviously not see the action, but only hear the music. Television broadcasts began on March 10, 1940, featuring excerpts from various operas. The next one would not take place until November 29, 1948, with a performance of Verdi's Otello. Television broadcasts have endured up to the current day, with semi-regular appearances on the PBS network.

In the war and postwar eras, the orchestra was led by some of the greatest conductors of the day, like George Szell, a regular from 1942 to 1946, and Fritz Reiner, music director from 1949 to 1953. By this time the orchestra was probably the finest opera house ensemble in the world. At least some of their success could be credited to the dynamic directorship of Rudolph Bing, who held the post from 1950 to 1972. Under his leadership not only did the number of subscribers more than triple, but, by general consensus, artistic standards of the individual singers, chorus, and orchestra rose considerably.

In 1986, James Levine took over as artistic director and has held the post into the new century. He has made a number of successful recordings with the Met organization, which returned to the recording studio after a several-decades long absence. The orchestra has been called upon to perform in a number of new works, including modern ones like Glass' The Voyage (1992) and Harbison's The Great Gatsby (1999), as well as early twentieth century masterpieces like Busoni's Doktor Faust and Prokofiev's The Gambler, both in the 2000-2001 season. Read less
Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress / Reiner, Metropolitan Opera
Release Date: 08/04/2017   Label: Datum  
Catalog: 90003   Number of Discs: 2
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Browse 1-25 of 270 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    DG 111: The Conductors / Various
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797477 Release Date: 08/04/2017   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Gaston Litaize,  Alain Moglia,  Luben Yordanoff,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Leonard Bernstein,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress / Reiner, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Datum   Catalog: 90003 Release Date: 08/04/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Martha Lipton,  Eugene Conley,  Hilde Gueden,  Norman Scott  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 3.
    Bizet: Les pecheurs de perles / Damrau, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Rhino Warner Classic (Dvd)   Catalog: 559206 Release Date: 02/24/2017  
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Matthew Polenzani,  Diana Damrau
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 4.
    Bizet: Les pecheurs de perles / Damrau, Metropolitan Opera [Blu-ray]
    Label: Rhino Warner Classic   Catalog: 559206 Release Date: 02/24/2017  
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Matthew Polenzani,  Diana Damrau
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    On sale! $27.99
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  • 5.
    The Inaugural Season: Extraordinary Met Performances from 1966-67
    Label: Metropolitan Opera   Catalog: 70182 Release Date: 12/16/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Giacomo Puccini,  Richard Strauss,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Jess Thomas,  Leontyne Price,  Justino Diaz,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Zubin Mehta,  Karl Böhm,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $276.99
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  • 6.
    Berg: Lulu / Koenigs, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra [Blu-ray + DVD]
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 556120 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Marlis Petersen,  Susan Graham,  Daniel Brenna,  Paul Groves  ... 
    Conductor:  Lothar Koenigs
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    On sale! $34.98
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  • 7.
    Verdi: Luisa Miller / Millo, Levine, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875194772 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Florence Quivar,  Paul Plishka,  Aprile Millo,  Jan-Hendrik Rootering  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459302 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Violeta Urmana,  Stuart Neill,  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Voices,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $220.99
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  • 9.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Paris Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 10.
    Donizetti: Maria Stuarda / Didonato, Polenzani, Benini, Met Opera [blu-ray]
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 542246 Release Date: 12/04/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Matthew Polenzani,  Joyce DiDonato,  Elza van den Heever,  Joshua Hopkins  ... 
    Conductor:  Maurizio Benini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Lehar: The Merry Widow / Fleming, Gunn, Davis, Metropolitan Opera [Blu-ray]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002420359 Release Date: 12/04/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Lehár
    Performer:  Renée Fleming,  Thomas Allen,  Carson Elrod,  Alek Shrader  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Ballet
    Blu-ray Video: $40.99
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  • 12.
    Lehar: The Merry Widow / Fleming, Gunn, Davis, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002420209 Release Date: 11/20/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Lehár
    Performer:  Renée Fleming,  Thomas Allen,  Carson Elrod,  Alek Shrader  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Ballet
    Recommendation
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 13.
    Igor Stravinsky: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 502616 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 57
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Various
    Performer:  Roger Sessions,  Aaron Copland,  Lukas Foss,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Conductor:  Igor Stravinsky,  Robert Craft,  Gregg Smith
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  CBC Symphony Orchestra,  American Concert Choir  ... 
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  • 14.
    Verdi: Macbeth / Luisi, Netrebko, Calleja, Pape
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002401309 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  René Pape,  Anna Netrebko,  Zeljko Lucic,  Joseph Calleja
    Conductor:  Fabio Luisi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    DVD: $43.99
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  • 15.
    Verdi: Macbeth / Luisi, Netrebko, Calleja, Pape [blu-ray]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002401259 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Joseph Calleja,  Zeljko Lucic,  Anna Netrebko,  René Pape
    Conductor:  Fabio Luisi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $43.99
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  • 16.
    Verdi: Ballet Music from Les Vepres siciliennes, Macbeth, Don Carlos, Otello, Aida / Levine, The MET Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88765478102 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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    CD: $6.99
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  • 17.
    Verdi: Falstaff / Maestri, Meade, Blythe, Levine, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002390109 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Stephanie Blythe,  Ambrogio Maestri,  Angela Meade,  Lisette Oropesa  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Recommendation
    DVD: $27.49
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  • 18.
    Verdi: Falstaff / Maestri, Meade, Blythe, Levine, Metropolitan Opera [Blu-ray]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002390059 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Angela Meade,  Ambrogio Maestri,  Stephanie Blythe,  Lisette Oropesa  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 19.
    Dvorak: Rusalka / Nezet-Seguin, Fleming, Bezcala, Zajic [Blu-ray]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002191259 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  Dolora Zajic,  Piotr Bezcala,  Renée Fleming,  John Relyea  ... 
    Conductor:  Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $43.99
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  • 20.
    Dvorak: Rusalka / Nezet-Seguin, Fleming, Bezcala, Zajic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002191109 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  Renée Fleming,  Piotr Bezcala,  Dolora Zajic,  John Relyea  ... 
    Conductor:  Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 21.
    Jonas Kaufmann - Carmen, Tosca, Faust, Werther
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002359909 Release Date: 08/28/2015   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Charles Gounod,  Jules Massenet,  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  Jonas Kaufmann,  Emily Magee,  Marina Poplavskaya  ... 
    Conductor:  Paolo Carignani,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin,  Michel Plasson,  Franz Welser-Möst
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Opera House Orchestra,  Zurich Opera House Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus  ... 
    DVD: $49.99
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  • 22.
    Jonas Kaufmann: Carmen - Tosca - Faust - Werther
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002360059 Release Date: 08/28/2015   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Charles Gounod,  Jules Massenet,  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  Jonas Kaufmann,  Emily Magee,  Marina Poplavskaya  ... 
    Conductor:  Paolo Carignani,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin,  Michel Plasson,  Franz Welser-Möst
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Opera House Orchestra,  Zurich Opera House Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus  ... 
    Blu-ray Video: $76.99
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  • 23.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Levine, Voigt, Heppner, Morris, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697448222 Release Date: 08/14/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jan-Hendrik Rootering,  Deborah Voigt,  James Morris,  Ben Heppner  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    CD: $14.99
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  • 24.
    Verdi: La Traviata /   Karajan, Moffo, Sereni, Zaccaria, Cioni, Carbonari
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6702 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Alfredo Giacomotti,  Nicola Zaccaria,  Mario Sereni,  Giorgio Loretti  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Massimo Freccia,  Franco Mannino,  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 25.
    Verdi: Otello /  Fleming, Botha, Struckmann, Bychkov, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002323609 Release Date: 05/04/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  James Morris,  Falk Struckmann,  Johan Botha,  Renée Fleming  ... 
    Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $24.99
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