1955

October 17

The Met Board of Directors and City Construction Coordinator Robert Moses resolve to cooperate to build a new opera house in the Lincoln Square area.

1959

May 14

Ground is broken for the construction of Lincoln Center to begin. President Eisenhower leads the ceremony and Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic in Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

1965

September 3

General Manager Rudolf Bing asks his friend Marc Chagall if he “might be prepared to paint two extremely large murals” for the new opera house at Lincoln Center.

1966

April 11

A student matinee of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West is the first performance at the new Met. The acoustical trial is a triumph.

April 16

The last Met performance in the old house is a grand gala farewell concert. A few nights earlier, Zinka Milanov makes her farewell appearance in Andrea Chénier.

September 16

The new opera house opens with the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. The libretto, sets, costumes, and direction are by Franco Zeffirelli. Leontyne Price and Justino Díaz sing the title roles, conducted by Thomas Schippers.

October 2

The Met premiere of Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten is conducted by Karl Böhm, with Leonie Rysanek, Christa Ludwig, James King, and Walter Berry in the leading roles. The production by Nathaniel Merrill takes full advantage of the technical capabilities of the new stage and becomes the first big hit in the new opera house.

December 8

Lohengrin, the Met’s only production by Wieland Wagner, the composer’s grandson who revolutionized operatic stagings with his work at the Bayreuth Festival, opens under the baton of Karl Böhm, with Sándor Kónya, Ingrid Bjoner, Christa Ludwig, and Walter Berry leading the cast. (Wagner dies a few weeks before the premiere and the production is staged by his assistant Peter Lehmann.)

1967

January 20

Colin Davis conducts Jon Vickers in his first performance of the title role of Peter Grimes. The strength of Vicker’s portrayal in the new production by Tyrone Guthrie contributes strongly to establishing Britten’s opera in the Met repertory.

February 19

Die Zauberflöte opens, with sets and costumes created by Marc Chagall. It remains the only opera production the famed artist ever designed.

March 17

Mourning Becomes Electra by Martin David Levy is the second world premiere of the Met’s initial season at Lincoln Center. Zubin Mehta conducts a cast that includes Evelyn Lear, in her company debut, and Sherrill Milnes.

June 24

The first season of Met in the Parks starts, offering free concert performances of operas in each of New York City’s five boroughs during the summer.

November 21

Herbert von Karajan makes his Met debut conducting and directing a new production of Die Walküre featuring Birgit Nilsson, Jon Vickers, Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, and Thomas Stewart.

1968

February 8

Montserrat Caballé, Richard Tucker, and Sherrill Milnes perform in a new production of Luisa Miller, the first Met revival of Verdi’s opera since 1930.

September 28

Plácido Domingo makes his company debut as Maurizio opposite Renata Tebaldi in Adriana Lecouvreur.

October 4

Director Otto Schenk debuts with a new production of Tosca. He will direct a total of 16 productions at the Met over the course of his career.

November 7

Il Barbiere di Siviglia is videotaped by NHK for Japanese television. It is intended as a pilot project, but the search for American TV and commercial retail markets is not successful.

November 23

Luciano Pavarotti makes his Met debut in La Bohème with Mirella Freni.

1969

January 23

A new production of Der Rosenkavalier opens, conducted by Karl Böhm, directed by Nathaniel Merrill. It will prove one of the Met’s most enduring successes, remaining in the repertory until 2010.

September 15

The Met’s scheduled opening night is delayed for more then three months due to prolonged labor negotiations. Several productions are delayed, altered, or cancelled altogether.

1970

March 3

A new production of Bellini’s Norma, the first since 1927, stars Joan Sutherland in her Met role debut and Marilyn Horne in her debut with the company.

December

Göran Gentele is named Rudolf Bing’s successor as General Manager, effective July 1972. He appoints Rafael Kubelik as Music Director beginning with the 1973–74 season.

1971

February 1

Credit cards are accepted at the Met box office.

June 5

Twenty-seven-year-old James Levine leads Tosca, his first Met performance. He will become Principal Conductor just two years later.

1972

February 17

Luciano Pavarotti creates a sensation with his nine high Cs in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, opposite Joan Sutherland in the title role.

April 22

A five-and-a half-hour gala farewell honoring Rudolf Bing, General Manager for 22 years, includes performances by many of the great singers of the time. One hour of highlights are telecast on CBS a week later.

July 18

Göran Gentele is killed in a car accident, less than three weeks after becoming General Manager. His Assistant Manager, Schuyler G. Chapin, becomes Acting General Manager and in May 1973 is named General Manager.

September 19

Leonard Bernstein leads Marilyn Horne and James McCracken in Gentele’s production of Carmen, designed by Josef Svoboda and staged by Bodo Igesz.

December 27

Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades is the first full opera performed in its original Russian at the Met.

1973

January 4

A series of “Look-In” student performances hosted by Danny Kaye is inaugurated, with James Levine conducting.

February 17

The “Mini-Met” is launched at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater with a double bill of Ohana’s Syllabaire pour Phèdre (in its world premiere) and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Though attendance is strong, financial problems force the suspension of the program after the first season.

October 22

Shirley Verrett sings both Cassandra and Dido in the Met premiere of Les Troyens, after Christa Ludwig, the original Dido, cancels because of illness. Rafael Kubelik conducts.

1974

January 31

James Levine leads the Met premiere of Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani in a production by John Dexter, who is making his company debut.

February 9

Kiri Te Kanawa makes her Met debut as Desdemona in Otello on last-minute notice in a Saturday matinee radio broadcast performance. Jon Vickers sings the title role and James Levine is on the podium.

October 18

The U.S. premiere of Britten’s Death in Venice stars Peter Pears as Aschenbach in his Met debut.

1975

April 27

The Met’s “Look-In” educational program with Danny Kaye, taped earlier that month, is televised nationally on CBS, in a rare venture into commercial television.

May 29

The Met goes on tour to Japan for the first time, presenting La Traviata, Carmen, and La Bohème. Six further tours follow, with the most recent one in 2011.

1976

January 13

Sarah Caldwell becomes the first woman to conduct a performance at the Met, leading La Traviata with Beverly Sills.

1977

February 5

Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, sung in English, has its Met premiere in an acclaimed production by John Dexter.

March 15

PBS inaugurates its Live from the Met series with a telecast of La Bohème, starring Renata Scotto and Luciano Pavarotti, conducted by James Levine. A record four million households watch the program.

1978

September 19

Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd has its Met premiere in a production by John Dexter conducted by James Levine.

1979

September 24

Opening Night is televised and broadcast on the radio, with Plácido Domingo singing the title role of Otello for the first time with the company.

November 16

James Levine and John Dexter continue their exploration of 20th-century repertory with a controversial staging of Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

1980

February 1

The Met launches its Young Artist Development Program (now known as the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program).

December 10

Postponed because of a labor dispute, the season finally opens with Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.

December 12

James Levine conducts the first Met performance of Berg’s Lulu in the completed three-act version, with Teresa Stratas in the title role.

1981

February 20

John Dexter directs Parade, a triple bill of Satie’s ballet Parade, Poulenc’s opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, with designs by David Hockney.

October 29

Birgit Nilsson makes her Met farewell as the Dyer’s Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten.

December 14

Franco Zeffirelli’s production of La Bohème premieres with Teresa Stratas and José Carreras. It will become the most performed production in Met history.

1982

October 14

James Levine leads the Met premiere of Mozart’s Idomeneo, in a production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle with Luciano Pavarotti in the title role.

1983

October 22

The Met celebrates its centennial with a two-part televised gala.

1984

January 19

Rinaldo, the first Handel opera to be performed at the Met, stars Marilyn Horne and marks the debut of Samuel Ramey.

October 18

Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito receives its Met premiere in a new production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle with James Levine conducting.

1985

January 3

Leontyne Price sings her final opera performance in the title role of Aida.

February 6

Fifty years after its world premiere, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is presented for the first time at the Met. Levine conducts Simon Estes and Grace Bumbry in the title roles.

1986

The Met goes on its annual spring tour for the last time, performing in Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.

1987

September 22

The season opens with a new production of Die Walküre, the first installment in a new Ring cycle directed by Otto Schenk and conducted by James Levine.

1988

March 12

A performance of Ariadne auf Naxos becomes the first cultural event televised live from the U.S. to the Soviet Union.

April 10

In a banner year for the National Council Auditions, finalists include Renée Fleming, Heidi Grant Murphy, Susan Graham, and Ben Heppner.

1989

March 12

Joan Sutherland makes her Met farewell with a recital of songs and arias, accompanied by Richard Bonynge at the piano.

April 1

The Schenk production of the Ring is first seen as a complete cycle.

1990

June 18 - 21

PBS televises the Met’s Ring cycle on four consecutive nights.

1991

March 16

Renée Fleming makes her Met debut as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro.

April - May

James Levine leads the Met Orchestra on its first national tour. The annual series of concerts in Carnegie Hall begins.

December 19

The Met presents its first world premiere in 25 years: John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles.

1992

October 12

Philip Glass’s The Voyage has its world premiere, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America.

1993

September 27

The season opens with a gala performance celebrating the 25th Met anniversaries of Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

1994

November 10

Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk has its Met premiere, conducted by James Conlon.

1995

October 2

Met Titles are introduced at the Opening Night performance of Otello.

1997

August 8

The Met sells tickets on the Internet for the first time.

September 15

Valery Gergiev is named Principal Guest Conductor.

1999

February 8

James Levine conducts the Met premiere of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron.

September 27

As Canio in Pagliacci, Plácido Domingo sings his 18th Metropolitan Opera opening night, breaking the record set by Caruso 79 years earlier.

December 20

John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, commissioned in honor of James Levine’s 25th Met anniversary, has its world premiere.

2002

February 1

Fifty-five years after the Met first announced plans to produce Prokofiev’s War and Peace, the opera finally has its company premiere, in a co-production with the Kirov Opera conducted by Valery Gergiev.

December 5

The company premiere of William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge adds another contemporary work to the Met repertory.

2003

December 4

Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini has its Met premiere, conducted by James Levine.

2005

December 2

Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, commissioned by the Met, has its world premiere, with James Conlon conducting Francesca Zambello’s production.

2006

September 25

Peter Gelb’s first season as General Manager opens with Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly, conducted by James Levine and transmitted live to audiences in Times Square and Lincoln Center Plaza.

December 21

Tan Dun’s The First Emperor, commissioned by the Met, has its world premiere with Plácido Domingo in the title role.

December 30

An abridged, English-language holiday presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute launches The Met: Live in HD, the company’s series of live performance transmissions to movie theaters internationally.

2008

April 11

The Met premiere of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, in a production by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, signals the company’s renewed commitment to presenting contemporary masterpieces.

October 22

The Met launches its on-demand online streaming service, now known as Met Opera on Demand.

November 7

Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust returns to the Met repertory for the first time in over 100 years in a new production by Robert Lepage, in his company debut.

2009

March 15

The Met celebrates its 125th anniversary season with a gala performance that also honors Plácido Domingo’s 40 years with the company.

November 12

Janáček’s From the House of the Dead has its Met premiere in a new production by Patrice Chéreau, in his company debut.

2010

February 23

Riccardo Muti makes his Met debut conducting the company premiere of Verdi’s Attila.

March 5

William Kentridge designs and directs the Met premiere production of Shostakovich’s The Nose, with Valery Gergiev conducting.

September 27

With the Opening Night performance of Das Rheingold, directed by Robert Lepage and conducted by James Levine, the Met launches a new Ring cycle.

2011

February 3

John Adams’s Nixon in China arrives at the Met, directed by Peter Sellars in his company debut.

September 26

Anna Netrebko opens the season in the Met premiere of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, directed by David McVicar.

December 31

The Met presents the world premiere of The Enchanted Island, a Baroque pastiche of arias and ensembles by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others.

2012

October 23

Composer Thomas Adès makes his company debut conducting the Met premiere of his opera The Tempest, in a production by Robert Lepage.

2013

October 21

Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, commissioned by the Met, has its U.S. premiere.

2014

February 6

Borodin’s Prince Igor returns to the Met for the first time in a century, in a production by Dmitri Tcherniakov in his company debut.

October 20

John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer has its Met premiere amid considerable controversy over its subject matter.

2016

May 7

James Levine conducts a matinee performance of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, his 2547th Met performance and his last as the company’s Music Director, a position he has held for 40 years. He becomes Music Director Emeritus with the 2016–17 season.

June 2

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is appointed the Met’s next Music Director, effective in the 2020–21 season. He will be Music Director Designate as of the 2017–18 season.

October 8

The Live in HD presentation of Mariusz Treliński’s new production of Tristan und Isolde marks the 100th transmission since the series’ launch in 2006.