The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The Metropolitan Opera is the largest classical music theatre in North America. It presents about 27 different operas each year from late September through May. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
The Metropolitan Opera Company was founded in 1883 as an alternative to New York's old established Academy of Music opera house. The subscribers to the Academy's limited number of private boxes represented the highest stratum in New York society. By 1880, these "old money" families were loath to admit New York's newly wealthy industrialists into their long-established social circle. Frustrated with being excluded, the Metropolitan Opera's founding subscribers determined to build a new opera house that would outshine the old Academy in every way. A group of 22 men assembled at Delmonico's restaurant on April 28, 1880. They elected officers and established subscriptions for ownership in the new company. The new theater, built at 39th and Broadway, would include three tiers of private boxes in which the scions of New York's powerful new industrial families could display their wealth and establish their social prominence. The first Met subscribers included members of the Morgan, Roosevelt, and Vanderbilt families, all of whom had been excluded from the Academy. The new Metropolitan Opera House opened on October 22, 1883, and was an immediate success, both socially and artistically. The Academy of Music's opera season folded just three years after the Met opened.
The operas are presented in a rotating repertory schedule, with up to seven performances of four different works staged each week. Performances are given in the evening Monday through Saturday with a matinée on Saturday. Several operas are presented in new productions each season. Sometimes these are borrowed from or shared with other opera companies. The rest of the year's operas are given in revivals of productions from previous seasons. The 2015–16 season comprised 227 performances of 25 operas.
The operas in the Met's repertoire consist of a wide range of works, from 18th-century Baroque and 19th-century Bel canto to the Minimalism of the late 20th century. These operas are presented in staged productions that range in style from those with elaborate traditional decors to others that feature modern conceptual designs.
The Met's performing company consists of a large symphony-sized orchestra, a chorus, a children's choir, and many supporting and leading solo singers. The company also employs numerous free-lance dancers, actors, musicians, and other performers throughout the season. The Met's roster of singers includes both international and American artists, some of whose careers have been developed through the Met's young artists programs. While many singers appear periodically as guests with the company, others, such as Renée Fleming and Plácido Domingo, long maintained a close association with the Met, appearing many times each season until they retired.