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Vanished Venues: The (Old) Metropolitan Opera House

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our series on great concert halls and nightclubs from New York music history concludes with a look at the old Metropolitan Opera House, which stood at West 39th Street and Broadway until 1967. Our guests include music writer Patrick J. Smith and Alfred Hubay, who worked at the Metropolitan Opera for 62 years.

Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives.
The Old Metropolitan Opera House in 1920
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Old Met Opera Interior at the 1966 Gala Farewell
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Met Exterior in the 1890s
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Fire at the Met opera, 1892-93
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
1883 Opera House Interior
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Original Met Opera postcard from 1883
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Opening Night for Monteux in 1953
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Exterior, c. 1930
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Aerial view of the Old Metropolitan Opera House
Courtesy of the Met Opera Archives
Met Exterior in Color, circa 1900


Alfred Hubay and Patrick Smith

Comments [16]


If anyone remembers me from Mrs Kransks ballet class in the 60's please get in touch...would love to reminice

May. 08 2014 01:26 PM
mariana smith from Boca Raton,Fla

I was walking by the demolition in 1967 and garnered 3-4 pieces of the gold moulding from the Old anyone interested??????cel is 561 703-7111

Oct. 26 2012 11:07 PM
John Bissett from Winters, CA

I have a section of the Old Met's curtain....can't remember how I got it, but I think they were selling small sections of the curtain for charity...Jacqueline Kennedy's name has always stuck in my mind as being associated with this project.....I am older now and wanting to place all the things I cherish in the appropriate place....what do I do with this curtain section....anyone out there want it?

Oct. 30 2011 07:40 PM

As a child I studied ballet at the old met,was chosen to have a small walk on part in Falstaff in the 60's and went on to Lincoln Center.Cherished memories of holding the bar and looking out to Broadway and a huge pedestal clock,Mrs Krask the teacher and being chosen to go on to toe!!!

Jan. 24 2011 08:02 PM
Jean Kahan from WNYC

In the early 50s, the Met had the enlightened policy of inviting suburban school classes to attend dress rehearsal performances of "popular" operas. At that time in New Providence, NJ, we had a wonderful music teacher, Madeline French, who adored opera. With great enthusiasm, she passed on to her students her appreciation of opera, the performers, the plots, etc.

As an older opera fan, I recall how much I learned standing on line on Saturdays for standing room tickets. The standing room area was right up front with a terrific view of the stage and the performers. The Saturday group was a bit like a club in that you'd see the same faces week to week.

Oct. 22 2010 02:45 PM
Connie from North Bergen, NJ from North Bergen, NJ

I used to go to the Met with a friend from Art School who was in Licia Albanese's claque. We took standing room way up in heaven and clapped and shouted whenever she entered, sand, exited. After the performance we went to see her backstage.

Oct. 22 2010 02:36 PM
Peter Schlemowitz from Beacon, NY

In the ealy 60's, '61 or '62 my girl freind and I would ride our bikes up to the Met, buy seats in the "family circle", $3.00 and a score. We then would go accross the street to the cafeteria and read the score and then proceed to take our seats. Once we had a seat in double Z and I like to say that we were above the angels, the top balcony extended above the main ceiling which had a fresco of angels.

Oct. 22 2010 02:31 PM

My parents had a box at the old Met, and occassionally I was able to go with them. They had a Saturday evening subscription, and my father always wore his tuxedo and my mother a long gown. I was enthralled, as much by what was on the stage as by all the glitter in the audience. I saw one of the last performances at the old Met, Aida, with Leontyne Price. My shift to the new building occurred in its first year when I heard Magic Flute with the Chagall costumes. I have had my own subscription to the Met for at least 30 years.

Oct. 22 2010 02:29 PM

btw the old Met opened on today's date, Oct. 22, 1883 with Faust.
Nice way to commemmorate their history

Oct. 22 2010 02:29 PM

At the old Met I sa thé Bolshoi,first Time in the U.S . In one of thé central lodge was Marlyn Monroe. The ballet was Romeo and Juliette with Galinova!

Oct. 22 2010 02:22 PM
Debbie Wohl

I grew up attending the Old Met. My first opera was Peleas and Melisande at age 7 in 1956. My parents and grandparents had a sub in the Family Circle, so we had to enter around the corner and take the elevator all the way up. When my elementary school class attended a performance of La Boheme, I finally got to walk in the front door and sit in the orchestra. I continued attending performances until the house closed and had my own sub at the new house until 1976.

Oct. 22 2010 02:21 PM
Lise Vogel from Brooklyn

In the early fifties I went with a girlfriend to standing room. In my memory we were very close to the stage and most of the other standees seemed to be working class Italian men.
Also in my memory I understood everything? Could it have been in English? Or perhaps the Italians explained everything to us.
I especially remember Cesare Siepi.

Oct. 22 2010 02:19 PM
Howard from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Nathan Silver, in Lost New York, states that the Metropolitan Opera Company REQUIRED the purchaser of the the Old Met site to DEMOLISH the old house. The Met didn't want a competitor company to use the building.

Oct. 22 2010 02:18 PM
Philip Colon from New York City

My elementary school class at a performance of La Boheme at the old Met remains in my memory. The 3rd act opening on an empty stage, blue light, snow falling, clearly signaled to a world where anything was musically possible. I have oftened wondered who the singers were.

Oct. 22 2010 12:08 PM
a g from n j

the location of the old met seems strange now. its proximity to times sq. in the 1960's,
and for better and worse the seedyness of that area. btw-what if any interface between b'way show people and opera fans at that time?

i imagine the move to the columbus/circle - lincoln/center complex would have seemed no less strange at the time,given the lack neighborhood integration to the specific cultural life of the new met.

Oct. 22 2010 08:41 AM

Bottom Line: Holy Modal Rounders reunion concert, 1995, which launched a fan-based mailing list, which included two main Rounders (Peter Stampfel & Steve Weber), and became a wellspring of friendships, connections of all kinds, even one marriage.

Oct. 18 2010 02:33 PM

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