Founded smack-dab in the middle of Chester A. Arthur's presidency, The Metropolitan Opera has been a vibrant cultural center for more than 130 years. The Met's accomplished conductors, performers, and composers form a who's who of opera?Arturo Toscanini and Gustav Mahler are among them?and they've premiered some of history's most remarkable works, including those by Wagner and Puccini. The current music director, James Levine, has steered the ship since 1976, witnessing not only the birth of groundbreaking works by Philip Glass and Tobias Picker, but also the creation of new opera fans across the country. In 1977, a televised performance of La Boh?me reached more than four million people, leading to regular broadcasts and HD screenings in movie theaters.
Since 1966, the Met's performers have sent their voices soaring in one of the world's most stunning opera houses, designed by architect Wallace K. Harrison. Past the lobby's two towering Marc Chagall paintings, twinkling Viennese chandeliers light the way to nearly 4,000 seats. There, the auditorium's timeless design blends seamlessly with technology: on each seat back, a small screen displays simultaneous translation through the company's unique Met Titles system, granting audiences the chance to follow the libretto in English, Spanish, or German.