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.
True to its name, Ensemble Du Monde celebrates the talents of musicians hailing from all over the world. And the chamber orchestra's repertoire is just as all-encompassing—concerts include pieces ranging from Baroque-era favorites to contemporary gems, with lesser-known and premiere works constantly feeding ears with delicious new sounds. That expansive selection has earned the ensemble performances at a wide variety of venues, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and at a live taping of Nickelodeon's Wonder Pets. Ensemble Du Monde also sponsors a Young Artists Concerto Competition to encourage the next generation of musical masters.
Art of the Stand-Up Comic brings together a quintet of gut-busting talents who elicit laughter in one evening of tag-team hilarity. Carole Montgomery shows off the wickedly deadpan sarcasm that has won her gigs on Comedy Central, ABC, and MTV, whereas the author of The Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing, Jim Mendrinos, tickles ribs with wry observational rants. Voice actor extraordinaire Brian Scott McFadden has lent his talents to such films as Ice Age II and Robots and interlaces high-energy monologues with hilarious impressions and characters. Also taking the stage, the youngest female comic to ever perform on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, Liz Miele, mixes self-deprecating sarcasm with cutting insight, and Lori Sommer shows off the improvisational powers that led her to cofound the renowned Red Tie Mafia Improv Troupe.
The art-deco splendor of Radio City Music Hall melds with the show's sets to create an otherworldly atmosphere Time praised as a "perfect union of site and spectacle." Backdrops of oversize gears and coiling snakes rise to the top of the 60-foot proscenium arch, and projections show off eerie sand paintings on the surrounding walls. Anthemic rock music by Australian electropop prodigy Nick Littlemore blasts through the pipes of the Mighty Wurlitzer, modified to twist ominously like a sinister American Bandstand dancer.
In town for one performance only, The Fab Four—The Ultimate Beatles Tribute sends audiences on a time-bending trip to the 1960s soundtracked by the lads from Liverpool’s greatest hits and die-hard fan favorites. Emceed by an actor channeling Ed Sullivan, the multimedia production boasts a talented cast showing off their uncanny impersonations of John, Paul, George, and MacGyver. Live note-for-note re-creations of the group’s classic hits include renditions of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life,” and “Hey Jude.” With three costume changes, the show covers the Beatles' developing style, from the early days through Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to their brief stint as country band Uncle Ringo and the Hungry Blues. The touring production plays the palatial St. George Theatre, where the baroque furnishings offer plenty of murals, tiled fountains, and sculpted figures to keep eyes entertained before the show.