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
Puccini: La Boheme / Levine, Stratas, Carreras, Metropolitan Opera
Release Date: 10/27/2009   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 001347209   Number of Discs: 1
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Wagner: Parsifal / Levine, Meier, Jerusalem, Moll, Metropolitan Opera
Release Date: 10/29/2002   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 073032   Number of Discs: 2
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Verdi: Falstaff / Levine, Bonney, Freni, Horne, Metropolitan Opera
Release Date: 06/30/2009   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 001295209   Number of Discs: 1
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Giordano: Andrea Chenier / Levine, Pavarotti, Guleghina, Pons, Metropolitan Opera
Release Date: 11/01/2011   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 001611109   Number of Discs: 1
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Strauss: Capriccio / Davis, Fleming, Metropolitan Opera [Blu-ray]
Release Date: 12/20/2011   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 001619659   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 276-299 of 299 Available Recordings
1 2 ... 11 12
  • 276.
    Verdi - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64070 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Paul Plishka,  Michael Sylvester,  Vladimir Chernov,  Eileen Farrell  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Max Rudolf,  Leonard Bernstein,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 277.
    Verdi: Il Trovatore / Levine, Domingo, Millo, Zajick, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48070 Release Date: 03/22/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Aprile Millo,  Dolora Zajic,  Vladimir Chernov  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 278.
    Il Mito Dell'opera - Flaviano Labň Vol Ii
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 1108 Release Date: 01/01/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Flaviano Labň,  Zinka Milanov,  Cesare Siepi,  Eberhard Wächter  ... 
    Conductor:  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Nicola Rescigno,  Fritz Stiedry,  Nello Santi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 279.
    Puccini: Manon Lescaut / Levine, Freni, Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 440200 Release Date: 09/14/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Ramón Vargas,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 280.
    This Is My Country / Price, Horne, Fiedler, Boston Pops
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 61545 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferde Grofé,  Aaron Copland,  Samuel Augustus Ward,  William Steffe  ... 
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Marilyn Horne
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Eugene Ormandy,  Charles Gerhardt,  Robert Shaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 281.
    Verdi: Don Carlo / Levine, Sylvester, Millo, Ramey, Chernov
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 52500 Release Date: 04/20/1993   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jane Bunnell,  Kathleen Battle,  Dwayne Croft,  Ferruccio Furlanetto  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 282.
    Verdi: La Traviata / Levine, Studer, Pavarotti, Pons
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435797 Release Date: 02/16/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Sondra Kelly,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Juan Pons,  Anthony Laciura  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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    CD: $26.99
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  • 283.
    Prima Voce - Amelita Galli-Curci Vol 2
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7852 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Félicien César David,  Charles Gounod,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Amelita Galli-Curci,  Clement Barone,  Tito Schipa,  Giuseppe de Luca  ... 
    Conductor:  Giulio Setti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 284.
    Prima Voce - Covent Garden - An Early History On Record
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7819 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Kirsten Flagstad,  Lauritz Melchior,  Richard Tauber,  Lawrence Tibbett  ... 
    Conductor:  Edwin McArthur,  Walter Goehr,  Giulio Setti,  Gustav Cloëz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 285.
    Prima Voce - Giovanni Martinelli
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7804 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Martinelli,  Grace Anthony,  Rosa Ponselle,  Giuseppe de Luca
    Conductor:  Nathaniel Shilkret,  Giulio Setti,  Rosario Bourdon,  Josef Pasternack  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 286.
    Prima Voce - Great Singers (1909-1938)
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7801 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Licinio Refice  ... 
    Performer:  Riccardo Stracciari,  Enrico Caruso,  Richard Tauber,  Claudia Muzio  ... 
    Conductor:  Giorgio Polacco,  Licinio Refice,  Giuseppe Antonicelli,  Lawrence Collingwood  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 287.
    Prima Voce - Rosa Ponselle
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7805 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carrie Jacobs-Bond,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Anton Arensky,  Eduardo Di Capua  ... 
    Performer:  Rosa Ponselle,  Romano Romani,  Mischa,,  Marion Telva  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Pasternack,  Rosario Bourdon,  Giulio Setti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    CD: $14.99
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  • 288.
    Prima Voce - Tibbett In Opera
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7825 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Lawrence Tibbett,  Giovanni Martinelli,  Leonard Warren,  Rose Bampton  ... 
    Conductor:  Nathaniel Shilkret,  Rosario Bourdon,  Wilfrid Pelletier,  Alexander Smallens  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
    CD: $14.99
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  • 289.
    Opera's Greatest Moments - Domingo, Price, Caballe, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61440 Release Date: 11/10/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitri Hvorostovsky,  Robert Merrill,  Placido Domingo,  Helen Donath  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Nello Santi,  Giuseppe Patané  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 290.
    Verdi: Luisa Miller / Levine, Millo, Domingo, Quivar  Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48073 Release Date: 08/25/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Florence Quivar,  Paul Plishka,  Jan-Hendrik Rootering,  Aprile Millo  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 291.
    Wagner: Siegfried / Levine, Goldberg, Zednik, Morris, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 429407 Release Date: 03/10/1992   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Heinz Zednik,  James Morris,  Reiner Goldberg,  Kurt Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 292.
    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Levine, Upshaw, Te Kanawa
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 431619 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Ferruccio Furlanetto,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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  • 293.
    Wagner: Götterdämmerung / Levine, Behrens, Goldberg, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 429385 Release Date: 09/12/1991   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hildegard Behrens,  Reiner Goldberg,  Matti Salminen,  Bernd Weikl  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 294.
    Verdi: Aida / Levine, Millo, Domingo, Morris, Ramey, Zajick
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45973 Release Date: 04/19/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Terry Cook,  James Morris,  Aprile Millo,  Hong Hei-Kyung  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 295.
    More Amore - The Great Italian Love Duets
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 46705 Release Date: 01/18/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pietro Mascagni,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francesco Cilča,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Adriana Morelli,  Placido Domingo,  Richard Tucker,  Eileen Farrell  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Fausto Cleva,  James Levine,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 296.
    Donizetti: L'Elisir d'Amore / Levine, Battle, Pavarotti
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 429744 Release Date: 11/10/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Dawn Upshaw,  Kathleen Battle,  Leo Nucci,  Enzo Dara  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 297.
    Marian Anderson- Bach, Brahms, Schubert
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 7911 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Traditional,  Richard Strauss,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Marian Anderson,  Franz Rupp,  Kosti Vehanen
    Conductor:  Mr. Prince,  Eugene Ormandy,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles O'Connell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Municipal Chorus  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 298.
    Wagner: Die Walküre / Levine, Behrens, Norman, Ludwig, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423389 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Diane Kesling,  Marita Napier,  Reinhild Runkel,  Meredith Parsons  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    On sale! $64.98
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