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
Browse 251-275 of 302 Available Recordings
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  • 251.
    I Want Magic! / Renee Fleming
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460567 Release Date: 09/15/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Douglas Moore,  André Previn,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Renée Fleming
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  New York Voices
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  • 252.
    Prima Voce - Great Singers In Donizetti
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7892 Release Date: 06/23/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Ezio Pinza,  Beniamino Gigli,  Toti Dal Monte,  Anna Rozsa  ... 
    Conductor:  Giulio Setti,  Carlo Sabajno,  Franco Ghione,  Alberto Erede
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
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  • 253.
    Bidu Sayao - La Damoiselle Elue, Opera Arias
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 63221 Release Date: 12/09/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Bidu Sayao,  Rosalind Nadell
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  Fausto Cleva,  Paul Breisach,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  University of Pennsylvania Women's Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 254.
    Pavarotti's Greatest Hits - The Ultimate Collection
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 458000 Release Date: 09/30/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Agustín Lara,  Ernesto Tagliaferri,  Domenico Modugno  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  David Romano,  Frank Sinatra,  Andrea Bocelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Maurizio Benini,  Giancarlo Chiaramello,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestra  ... 
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  • 255.
    Verdi: I Lombardi / Levine, Anderson, Leech, Pavarotti, Etc
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 455287 Release Date: 09/16/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  June Anderson,  Patricia Racette,  Ildebrando D'Arcangelo  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 256.
    Wagner: Orchestral Music / Levine, The Met Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 447764 Release Date: 09/16/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 257.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Torsten Ralf Vol 2
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89152 Release Date: 07/15/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Helen Traubel,  Herta Glaz,  Torsten Ralf,  Hilde Konetzni
    Conductor:  Fritz Busch,  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra
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  • 258.
    Ljuba Welitsch - The Complete Columbia Recordings
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 62866 Release Date: 06/03/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Richard Strauss,  Joseph Marx,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Ulanowsky,  Ljuba Welitsch,  Alessio De Paolis,  Richard Tucker
    Conductor:  Max Rudolf,  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 259.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer / Levine, Morris, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 66342 Release Date: 04/15/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  James Morris,  Ben Heppner,  Deborah Voigt,  Birgitta Svendén  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 260.
    George London - Of Gods And Demons
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 62758 Release Date: 01/14/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Rubinstein,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Louis Gruenberg,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  George London
    Conductor:  Kurt Herbert Adler,  Rudolf Moralt,  Jean Paul Morel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
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  • 261.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Ezio Pinza Vol 3
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89132 Release Date: 11/19/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Ezio Pinza
    Conductor:  Fausto Cleva,  Emil Cooper,  Bruno Walter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 262.
    Mozart: Idomeneo / Levine, Domingo, Bartoli, Vaness
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 447737 Release Date: 10/22/1996   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Carol Vaness,  Frank Lopardo,  Thomas Hampson,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 263.
    James Levine's 25th Anniversary - Metropolitan Opera Gala
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 449177 Release Date: 10/15/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Richard Strauss,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Karita Mattila,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd,  Anne Sofie von Otter  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 264.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Helen Traubel
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89120 Release Date: 10/15/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Helen Traubel,  Kurt Baum
    Conductor:  Charles O'Connell,  Artur Rodzinski,  Ernst Knoch,  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 265.
    R. Strauss: Don Quixote, Tod Und Verklärung / Levine
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 447762 Release Date: 08/13/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Raymond Gniewek,  Jerry Grossman,  Michael Ouzounian
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 266.
    Domingo Duets
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 447270 Release Date: 07/16/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Rosalind Plowright,  Cheryl Studer  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlos Kleiber,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Myung-Whun Chung,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus  ... 
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  • 267.
    Prima Voce - Lawrence Tibbett - From Broadway To Hollywood
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7881 Release Date: 07/06/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Jacques Wolfe,  Vincent Youmans,  Franz Lehár  ... 
    Performer:  Lawrence Tibbett,  Helen Jepson
    Conductor:  Wilfrid Pelletier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 268.
    Bryn Terfel - Opera Arias / Levine, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 445866 Release Date: 04/09/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Alexander Borodin  ... 
    Performer:  Bryn Terfel
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 269.
    Prima Voce - Ezio Pinza
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7875 Release Date: 02/02/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Charles Gounod,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Beniamino Gigli,  Elisabeth Rethberg,  Ezio Pinza,  Grace Anthony  ... 
    Conductor:  Rosario Bourdon,  Giulio Setti,  Gualandi,,  Carlo Sabajno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 270.
    Berg: Lulu Suite, Wozzeck Excerpts, Three Pieces / Levine
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 53959 Release Date: 01/09/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Renée Fleming
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 271.
    Puccini - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64597 Release Date: 06/13/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Eva Martón,  José Carreras,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  Emerson Buckley,  Lorin Maazel,  John Pritchard,  Giuseppe Patané  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emilia Romagna Arturo Toscanini Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 272.
    Il Mito Dell'opera - Carlo Bergonzi
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 1100 Release Date: 04/18/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Umberto Giordano,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi,  Raina Kabaivanska,  Piero Cappuccilli,  Renata Tebaldi
    Conductor:  Kurt Eichhorn,  Fausto Cleva,  Michelangelo Veltri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 273.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Ezio Pinza
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89050 Release Date: 02/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ambroise Thomas,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Ezio Pinza
    Conductor:  Rosario Bourdon,  Giulio Setti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 274.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Giuseppe De Luca Vol 2
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89073 Release Date: 02/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Amilcare Ponchielli  ... 
    Performer:  Beniamino Gigli,  Giuseppe de Luca,  Amelita Galli-Curci,  Grace Anthony  ... 
    Conductor:  Rosario Bourdon,  Giulio Setti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 275.
    Kirsten Flagstad Vol 3 - Live Performances 1948-1957
    Label: Simax   Catalog: 1823 Release Date: 01/01/1995   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Kirsten Flagstad,  Viorica Ursuleac,  Set Svanholm
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Johan Hye-Knudsen,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Georges Sebastian  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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