Neubauer Family Foundation gives $10 million to the Met’s New Works Initiative
New York, NY (September 22, 2023)—The Metropolitan Opera today announced a major gift of $10 million from the Neubauer Family Foundation to support the company’s efforts to bring more new operas to the Met stage over the next five seasons than any time in recent history. Starting with Opening Night this month and running through the 2027–28 season, the Neubauer Family Foundation will underwrite the Met premieres of 15 to 20 new operas, as well as innovative public programming that will raise awareness of the groundbreaking new work happening at the Met to engage with new and diverse audiences. The grant is also expected to catalyze additional financial support from existing and new donors inspired by a revitalized repertoire.
The New Works Initiative gets underway this season with four Met premieres: Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, based on Sister Helen Prejean’s influential memoir; Anthony Davis’s pathbreaking X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, in a new production by Robert O’Hara, who directed Slave Play on Broadway; Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, just the third Spanish-language opera in Met history; and John Adams’s El Niño, featuring four major company debuts: director Lileana Blain-Cruz, maestro Marin Alsop, soprano Julia Bullock, and baritone Davóne Tines.
Joseph Neubauer and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer were motivated to contribute to the Met’s efforts to expand the repertoire by the company’s successes with new works in recent seasons, which showed the appeal for new and younger audiences. “When the Met reopened after the pandemic with Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones—the first opera by a Black composer to be staged at the Met—my husband and I felt energy and excitement like never before,” said Lerman-Neubauer. “Covid made us all painfully aware of how debilitating life without human interaction can be, and art is essential to combat loneliness and depression. The auditorium was filled that night with an audience that looked more like New York than any we’d ever experienced—more young people, more people of color, and many people, from all walks of life, who had never set foot in the Met before. People had such a good time, and I saw so many spontaneous conversations erupt among strangers.”
“The Neubauers care deeply about operatic excellence, innovation, and the accessibility of the Met, and they understand the importance of thinking creatively to ensure that opera remains a living art form, and to bring it to a wider audience,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager. “We have always been able to count on their support when it comes to our efforts to transform the Met, and there is nothing more important than our plan to revitalize the repertoire in the coming seasons.”
“We know that bringing new work to the Met stage will stimulate creativity and artistic achievement not just in those productions but throughout entire seasons,” Lerman-Neubauer said. “My husband and I fully endorse the company’s commitment to adding compelling contemporary works to the irreplaceable classics of the repertoire,” said Mrs. Lerman-Neubauer.
The Neubauer Family Foundation was the founding sponsor of the Met’s award-winning Live in HD transmissions, now entering its 17th season. The series launched in 2006 with the goal of increasing accessibility to world-class Met performances to opera lovers around the world. It has been a widely acclaimed success.
In 2018, the Foundation named the Met Music Director position with the appointment of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, marking the first time in company history of the Met that the position has been named. The Foundation also supported the introduction of Sunday matinee performances starting with the 2019–20 season.
“Joe and Jeanette Neubauer have been incredible supporters of my artistic vision since my very first day as the Met’s Music Director,” said Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director. “This leadership gift will fuel our vision for a more representative art form at the Met, and I cannot wait to lead many of these amazing new productions from the podium,”
The Neubauer Family Foundation was established by Joseph Neubauer and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer to pursue their philanthropic interests. Mrs. Lerman-Neubauer spent more than 30 years managing corporate communications for various companies, including Merrill Lynch, Unisys, and Time Warner. She was elected to the Met’s Board of Directors in 1999 and currently chairs the Marketing Committee and serves on the Executive Committee of the Met’s Board. Mr. Neubauer is the former Chairman and CEO of Aramark, and past Chairman of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the University of Chicago. The Neubauer Family Foundation supports initiatives in education, the arts, and Jewish culture, funding projects initiated primarily by the Neubauers.