Yet another season is poised to begin at the Metropolitan Opera -- the Met’s fiftieth at Lincoln Center -- and it promises to be thrilling and moving. Your MET Orchestra is eager to get back to what we do best: bringing exquisite music to life. This is the first season the beloved James Levine will begin as Music Director Emeritus, a position through which he promises to continue the same peerless artistic leadership and guidance the opera-loving world has come to love and respect. We eagerly anticipate our performances of L’italiana in Algeri, Nabucco, and Idomeneo, which will showcase our decades-long partnership and Maestro Levine’s unquestioned mastery of a wide range of repertoire.
So, too, do we look forward to performances of Der fliegende Holländer with our newly-named future Music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In case you missed the announcement last spring, Maestro Nézet-Séguin will become Music Director Designate next season, and Music Director in the 2020-21 season. We are thrilled to continue collaborating with one of the truly great conductors of our time, both in the pit and in planning for the future of this iconic institution.
This season promises to be filled with these and many more artistic highlights, including highly-anticipated performances with Fabio Luisi, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Simon Rattle, and David Robertson, with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting three concerts at Carnegie Hall and Susanna Mälkki making her Met debut. We are also pleased to see that collaborative vigilance over the financial health of the Met continues to pay dividends. As demonstrated by the Met’s second consecutive balanced budget since 2014, grand opera can be efficiently produced in a fiscally responsible way. Devastating cuts to that artistic core were not, in fact, necessary to avert bankruptcy.
Moreover, we are pleased to see that, nationwide, the outlook for opera looks promising. Arts commentator Scott Chamberlain has detailed this even further. While the 2008 financial crisis had a profound impact on nearly every non-profit sector, the improving economy has since lifted most arts institutions along with it. While it has been widely publicized that the Met’s own box office has recently dipped, data from the National Endowment for the Arts reveals this to be a localized aberration, with the majority of American opera companies seeing participation growth between 2008 and 2012: total attendance grew 14%, and attendees are coming more often. This is excellent news for our future: it means the Met has tremendous potential for growth and it validates a broad cultural embrace of opera.
It is no secret that our core audience has always comprised many adults over 40. Contrary to popular belief, however, our audiences are not “dying off.” In fact, according to the same NEA data, baby boomers showed “...an increase in performing arts attendance over a decade ago. Their rates of attendance at classical music, opera, musicals, and non-musicals were significantly higher in 2012 than in 2002.” In short, baby boomers love opera, and there have never been more of them. So, for those boomers reading, thank you for your continued support!
Heartened by all of this good news, we continue to work tirelessly on behalf of our beloved house and you, our fans, who make opera possible and give our performances meaning. We look forward to seeing you on September 26, and many more times throughout the coming months!
The MET Orchestra Musicians