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The Metropolitan Opera, affectionately known as “the Met,” is the premier performance venue for opera in the United States, and one of the leading opera companies in the world. It is located at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, a complex of arts organizations in New York City. Over 200 performances are staged at the Met each year during the regular season, and in the off-season, the stages are used by visiting opera companies and groups such as the American Ballet Theatre to stage additional performances.
Visitors to the Met are often struck by the grandeur of the opera house, which features ornate artwork and stunning architectural features. The Met is also proud of a number of technical innovations at the opera house, such as the libretto translations displayed on the back of the seats, rather than on supertitles over the stage. The Met's backstage facilities are widely regarded to be among the finest in the United States, since the Met must be able to accommodate stunning, large sets and rapid set changes in its productions, along with huge casts of opera stars, musicians, and supporting singers.
The Metropolitan Opera Association was founded in 1880, and initially supported by subscribers who purchased boxes at the original site of the Met on Broadway. The first opera presented at the Met was Faust, in 1883. After several remodels in the early 20th century, it became apparent that the so-called “Old Met” on Broadway was no longer adequate, and the Met moved to Lincoln Center, its present home, in 1996.
Lincoln Center is a unique New York Institution. 12 performing arts organizations sprawl across the grounds of Lincoln Center, offering a wide range of performances to choose from on any given day of the year. Visitors to Lincoln Center can watch ballet and other dance performances, attend concerts, and do research at the Lincoln Center's formidable library in addition to listening to performances at the Met.
As the foremost opera house in the United States, the Met regularly hosts American debuts of international operas, as well as debut performances of entirely new operas. The Met also hosts visiting opera companies which they wish to perform in the United States. Seeing shows at the Met is relatively easy; a wide range of ticket prices cater to an assortment of budgets, and they can be purchased online at the Met's website, over the phone, or at the Met's box office.
For those who cannot travel to the Met, the Met can also travel to its fans. Since 1931, the Met has been broadcasting live performances over the international airwaves during its regular season. These broadcasts can be heard on Saturday mornings, and they are available on a number of radio stations. Station lists are available from the Metropolitan Opera's site.