Metropolitan Opera House (39th Street)

Last updated

Coordinates: 40°45′15″N73°59′15″W / 40.75417°N 73.98750°W / 40.75417; -73.98750


Metropolitan Opera House in 1905, looking uptown Metropolitan opera 1905 crop.jpg
Metropolitan Opera House in 1905, looking uptown
Recital at the old Met by pianist Josef Hofmann, November 28, 1937 Metropolitan Opera House, a concert by pianist Josef Hofmann - NARA 541890 - Edit.jpg
Recital at the old Met by pianist Josef Hofmann, November 28, 1937

The Metropolitan Opera House was an opera house located at 1411 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City. Opened in 1883 and demolished in 1967, it was the first home of the Metropolitan Opera Company.


Sometimes referred to as "the old Met", the Metropolitan Opera House opened on October 22, 1883, with a performance of Faust . It was located at 1411 Broadway, occupying the whole block between West 39th Street and West 40th Street on the west side of the street in the Garment District of Midtown Manhattan. Nicknamed "The Yellow Brick Brewery" for its industrial looking exterior, the original Metropolitan Opera House was designed by J. Cleaveland Cady. On August 27, 1892, the nine-year-old theater was gutted by fire. The 1892−93 season was canceled while the opera house was rebuilt along its original lines. During that season, the Vaudeville Club, which eventually became the Metropolitan Opera Club, was founded and hosted entertainment in the undamaged portions of the house.

In 1903, architects Carrère and Hastings extensively redesigned the interior of the opera house. The familiar golden auditorium with its sunburst chandelier, and curved proscenium inscribed with the names of six composers (Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Gounod and Verdi), dates from this time. The first of the Met's signature gold damask stage curtains was installed in 1906, completing the look that the old Metropolitan Opera House maintained until its closing.

Metropolitan Opera House program cover depicting the Proscenium arch in 1935 Metropolitan Opera House program cover 1935.jpg
Metropolitan Opera House program cover depicting the Proscenium arch in 1935

In 1940, ownership of the opera house shifted from the wealthy families who occupied the theater's boxes to the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association. At this time the last major change to the auditorium's interior was completed. The second tier of privately held boxes (the "grand tier") was converted into standard row seating. This enlarged the seating capacity and left only the first tier of boxes from the "golden horseshoe" of the opera house's origins as a showplace for New York society.

The Met had a seating capacity of 3,625 with 224 standing room places.

While the theater was noted for its excellent acoustics and elegant interior, as early as the 1900s the backstage facilities were deemed to be severely inadequate for a large opera company. Scenery and sets were a regular sight leaning against the building exterior on 39th Street where crews had to shift them between performances. Various plans were put forward over the years to build a new home for the company and designs for new opera houses were created by various architects including Joseph Urban. Proposed new locations included Columbus Circle and what is now Rockefeller Center, but none of these plans came to fruition. Only with the development of Lincoln Center on New York's Upper West Side did the Met finally have the opportunity to build a modern opera house.

The Metropolitan Opera said goodbye to its old house on April 16, 1966, with a sentimental gala farewell performance featuring nearly all of the company's current leading artists. Long-time Met star soprano Zinka Milanov made her last Met appearance that night, and among the many invited guests was soprano Anna Case, who had made her debut at the house in 1909. The final performance at the opera house was given not by the Met, but by the Bolshoi Ballet, which concluded a short run of appearances on May 8, 1966. [1] The theater was purchased by Jack D. Weiler [2] and despite a campaign to preserve the theater, it failed to obtain landmark status and the old Met was razed in 1967. It was replaced by a 40-story office tower, 1411 Broadway, intended to provide a steady income for the opera company. Designed by Irwin S. Chanin and completed in 1970, the building was later sold by the Metropolitan Opera and today it is owned by 1411 TrizecHahn-Swig LLC, a partnership of the TrizecHahn and Swig real estate companies. Since 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center has been home to the Metropolitan Opera.

Related Research Articles

An off-Broadway theatre is any professional theatre venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive. These theatres are smaller than Broadway theatres, but larger than off-off-Broadway theatres, which seat fewer than 100.

Opera house Theatre building used for opera performances

An opera house is a theatre building used for performances of opera. It usually includes a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and building sets.

Metropolitan Opera Opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an American opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Detroit Opera House

The Detroit Opera House is an ornate opera house located at 1526 Broadway Street in Downtown Detroit, Michigan, within the Grand Circus Park Historic District. The 2,700-seat venue is the home of productions of the Michigan Opera Theatre and a variety of other events. The theatre was originally designed by C. Howard Crane, who created other prominent theatres in Detroit including The Fillmore Detroit, the Fox Theater and the Detroit Symphony's Orchestra Hall. It opened on January 22, 1922.

Neil Simon Theatre

The Neil Simon Theatre, formerly the Alvin Theatre, is a Broadway theatre built in 1927 and located at 250 West 52nd Street in the Theater District of Midtown Manhattan in New York City.

Majestic Theatre (Broadway)

The Majestic Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 245 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan. It is one of the largest Broadway theatres with 1,681 seats, and traditionally has been used as a venue for major musical theatre productions. Among the notable shows that have premiered at the Majestic are Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949), The Music Man (1957), Camelot (1960), A Little Night Music (1973), and The Wiz (1975). It was also the second home of 42nd Street and the third home of 1776. The theatre has housed The Phantom of the Opera since it opened on January 26, 1988. With a record-breaking over 13,300 performances to date, it is currently the longest-running production in Broadway history.

Hayes Theater

Hayes Theater is a Broadway theatre located at 240 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan. With 597 seats, it is the smallest theatre on Broadway. It was an ABC Television studio from 1957 to 1963. Later the syndicated talk show The Merv Griffin Show, before it moved to Los Angeles in 1972, was taped at the theatre.

Music venue Any location used for a concert or musical performance

A music venue is any location used for a concert or musical performance. Music venues range in size and location, from a small coffeehouse for folk music shows, an outdoor bandshell or bandstand or a concert hall to an indoor sports stadium. Typically, different types of venues host different genres of music. Opera houses, bandshells, and concert halls host classical music performances, whereas public houses ("pubs"), nightclubs, and discothèques offer music in contemporary genres, such as rock, dance, country, and pop.

Straz Center for the Performing Arts

The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa, Florida in July 1987. The venue was rebranded in November 2009 to recognize the donation of financier David A. Straz, Jr.--the largest individual philanthropic gift ever made to a cultural institution in Tampa.

Academy of Music (New York City)

The Academy of Music was a New York City opera house, located on the northeast corner of East 14th Street and Irving Place in Manhattan. The 4,000-seat hall opened on October 2, 1854. The review in The New York Times declared it to be an acoustical "triumph", but "In every other aspect ... a decided failure," complaining about the architecture, interior design and the closeness of the seating; although a follow-up several days later relented a bit, saying that the theater "looked more cheerful, and in every way more effective" than it had on opening night.

Teatro dellOpera di Roma

The Teatro dell'Opera di Roma is an opera house in Rome, Italy. Originally opened in November 1880 as the 2,212 seat Costanzi Theatre, it has undergone several changes of name as well modifications and improvements. The present house seats 1,600.

Aeolian Hall (Manhattan)

Aeolian Hall was a concert hall in midtown Manhattan in New York City, located on the third floor of 29-33 West 42nd Street across the street from Bryant Park. The Aeolian Building was built in 1912 for the Aeolian Company, which manufactured pianos. Located on the site of the former Latting Tower, which during the 19th century was a popular observatory, the 18-story building contained the 1,100-seat Aeolian Hall. The building stands next to the Grace Building.

Emerging Pictures was a theatrical exhibition company, founded in 2002 by Giovanni Cozzi, Ira Deutchman and Barry Rebo.

Trizec Properties

Trizec Properties, Inc., previously known as TrizecHahn Corporation, was a real estate investment trust (REIT) company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. It was historically a Canadian company. The name is derived from the three groups (Tri) that formed a one-time related company Trizec Properties Ltd to develop Place Ville Marie in Montreal. Developer William Zeckendorf (Z) initially financed the project with capital provided by two UK insurance companies, Eagle Star (E) and Covent Gardens (C), which formed the word Trizec.

Grand Opera House (Manhattan)

Pike's Opera House, later renamed the Grand Opera House, was a theater in New York City on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 23rd Street, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. It was constructed in 1868, at a cost of a million dollars, for distiller and entrepreneur Samuel N. Pike (1822–1872) of Cincinnati. The building survived in altered form until 1960 as an RKO movie theater, after which it was replaced by part of Penn South, an urban renewal housing development.

Metropolitan Opera House (Philadelphia) Theater in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

The Metropolitan Opera House is a historic opera house located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It has been used for many different purposes over its history. Now known as The Met, the theatre reopened in December 2018, after a complete renovation, as a concert venue. It is managed by Live Nation Philadelphia.

Metropolitan Opera House (Lincoln Center) opera house in Manhattan

The Metropolitan Opera House is an opera house located on Broadway at Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. Part of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the theater was designed by Wallace K. Harrison. It opened in 1966, replacing the original 1883 Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway and 39th Street. With a seating capacity of approximately 3,850, the house is the largest repertory opera house in the world. Home to the Metropolitan Opera Company, the facility also hosts the American Ballet Theatre in the summer months.

New York City Center Theater in New York City

New York City Center is a 2,257-seat Moorish Revival theater at 131 West 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, one block south of Carnegie Hall. City Center is a performing home for several major dance companies as well as the Encores! musical theater series and the Fall for Dance Festival. The facility houses the 2,257 seat main stage, two smaller theaters, four studios and a 12-story office tower.

Brownes Chop House

Browne's Chop House was a New York City restaurant that was popular with the theatrical crowd. It closed in 1925.

Abbey, Schoeffel and Grau

Abbey, Schoeffel and Grau was a US theatre management and production firm, active from 1880 until 1896. The partners were Henry E. Abbey, John B. Schoeffel and Maurice Grau. Abbey and Schoeffel had been in partnership since 1876, and joined forces with Grau in 1882. They managed and ran a number of theatres in New York and Boston, including the Metropolitan Opera House in 1883-4 and from 1891–1896, when Abbey died. Schoeffel and Grau remained at the Met until 1903.



  1. Barnes, Clive (May 9, 1966). "Ballet: Our Revels Now Are Ended at the Old Metropolitan; Bolshoi Gives House Its Last Performance Hurok Invites Dancers of the Past for Finale" (PDF). The New York Times . p. 48.
  2. "Millionaire Began as a Realty Clerk". The Pittsburgh Press . February 18, 1986. p. A4.