Metropolitan Opera House, 1423 Broadway, New York, New York County, NY
Significance: The Metropolitan Opera House was the home of the Metropolitan Opera Company from 1883 until 1966 and during these eighty three years played an important role in operatic tradition. Although the building, designed by J. Cleveland Cady, did not have a particularly distinguished exterior, its interior placed it among the great opera houses of the world.
Survey number: HABS NY-5486
Building/structure dates: 1883 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: 1903 Subsequent Work
The Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883, with its first opera house built on Broadway and 39th Street by a group of wealthy businessmen who wanted their own theater. In the company’s early years, the management changed course several times, first performing everything in Italian (even Carmen and Lohengrin), then everything in German (even Aida and Faust), before finally settling into a policy of performing most works in their original language, with some notable exceptions. The Metropolitan Opera has always engaged many of the world’s most important artists: Christine Nilsson, Marcella Sembrich, Lilli Lehmann, Nellie Melba, Emma Calvé, De Reszke brothers, Jean and Edouard, Emma Eames, Lillian Nordica, Enrico Caruso, Geraldine Farrar, Rosa Ponselle, Lawrence Tibbett and more. Some of the great conductors have helped shape the Met: Anton Seidl, Arturo Toscanini, Gustav Mahler, Artur Bodanzky, Bruno Walter, George Szell, Fritz Reiner, and Dimitri Mitropoulos.