Golden Anniversary

The New Met

On September 16, 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House opened in its new home in Lincoln Center with the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. The next day, the front page of the New York Times proclaimed the opening “a crescendo of splendor,” and a new era of theatrical possibility was born. This season, the Met celebrates 50 years in its Lincoln Center home with a season-long series of events, culminating in a special all-star gala performance on May 7, 2017. And on the web, we’ll be paying regular tribute to the house’s many architectural and artistic milestones of the past five decades. Check back often for new anniversary-related content, including a forthcoming interactive timeline.

Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground

The new Met opened at Lincoln Center in September 1966. But it took more than a decade to get to that memorable night. After the area around what is known as Lincoln Square was designated for renewal in 1955 and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts was incorporated the following year, ground was finally broken for construction to begin on May 14, 1959—by President Eisenhower himself. “Jovial and vigorous,” the New York Times reported, “the President shoveled up freshly softened dirt to break ground for the $75,000,000 music, opera, theatre and dance project at West Sixty-Fourth Street and Broadway.” (After that, the paper adds, “he shoveled four times more for photographers.”) Leonard Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic in Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, and many other luminaries from politics and the arts attended the ceremony. Seen here is the building site in February 1960.

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Articles

Share Your Memory

Share your personal Met memory from 50 years at Lincoln Center!

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The Saturday radio broadcasts have been an important part of my life for nearly 25 years, since I was in my mid-teens, and I loved listening to Peter Allen. In fact, he was a role model while I was developing my passion for radio and then pursuing my first career as a classical music radio announcer, which involved presentations of operas. He had a beautiful voice, but what fascinated me was the resonance of his voice and his ability to bring a script to life through inflection, pauses, and other ways of emphasizing words and phrases. There were many times when I felt a frisson of deep emotion at his delivery of a line. Hearing and reading about his meticulous preparation for each broadcast further inspired me to be thorough and accurate in my own work in radio and now as a writer. Plus, the four-CD set that he wrote and narrated about the Ring Cycle is a masterpiece of research, and it has provided endless enjoyment of its own. I was able to meet Mr. Allen several times, including an interview for my college newspaper, and he was most gracious. The Met, and the rest of us, were so fortunate to benefit from his talents.

Greg Waxberg (Branchburg, NJ)

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I saw my first opera ever at the Met in 2014. It was “Werther” with Jonas Kaufmann. A friend was a huge opera lover and needed someone to go with her and so I took my seat in the Family Circle and from the moment I heard those voices soaring above the great Met orchestra, I wondered “Where has this been all my life?” The Met creates magic on that stage with every performance and I anxiously look forward to what they’ll do in the next 50 years.

Kathleen Ford (Washington, D.C.)

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I remember sitting on the floor in my bedroom listening to the live broadcast of that opening night - the world premiere of “Antony and Cleopatra.” I was fifteen. Hard to believe it was fifty years ago!

Jay Kindervater (San Antonio, TX)

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#Met50
Follow the celebration of the Met’s 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center and share your own memories by posting to social media with the hashtag #Met50

#Met50

Follow the celebration of the Met’s 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center and share your own memories by posting to social media with the hashtag #Met50

A 50th-Anniversary Timeline

Explore memorable moments from five decades of Met history.

View Timeline

Events

50 Years at Lincoln Center

A Gala Celebration

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On September 16, 1966, the Metropolitan Opera opened its doors for the first time at Lincoln Center, with the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. The company will celebrate its golden anniversary in its current home with a special gala featuring some of the greatest artists in opera, performing a mix of repertory that both looks back at great moments from the past five decades and ahead to future seasons.

Gala production a gift of Sana H. Sabbagh

PURCHASE TICKETS TO THIS EVENT

  • 5:00 PM Cocktail Reception
  • 6:00 PM Performance
  • 9:00 PM Cast Dinner

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