The MET OrchestraMore Info
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is regarded as one of the world's finest
orchestras. From the time of the company's inception in 1883, the ensemble has worked with
leading conductors in both opera and concert performances and has developed into an
orchestra of enormous technical polish and style.
The MET Orchestra maintains a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals during its
32-week New York season, when the company performs seven times a week in repertory that
normally encompasses approximately 27 operas.
Arturo Toscanini conducted almost 500 performances at the Met, and Gustav Mahler, during
the few years he was in New York, conducted 54 Met performances. More recently, many of the
world's great conductors have led the orchestra: Walter, Beecham, Reiner, Mitropoulos,
Kempe, Szell, Böhm, Solti, Maazel, Bernstein, Mehta, Abbado, Karajan, Dohnányi, Haitink,
Tennstedt, Ozawa, Gergiev, and Barenboim. Carlos Kleiber's only US opera performances were
with the MET Orchestra.
In addition to its opera schedule, the orchestra has a distinguished history of concert
performances. Toscanini made his American debut as a symphonic conductor with the Met
Orchestra in 1913, and the impressive list of instrumental soloists who appeared with the
orchestra includes Leopold Godowsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, Pablo Casals,
Josef Hofmann, Ferruccio Busoni, Jascha Heifetz, Moritz Rosenthal, and Fritz Kreisler.
Since the orchestra resumed symphonic concerts in 1991, instrumental soloists have included
Itzhak Perlman, Maxim Vengerov, Alfred Brendel, and Evgeny Kissin, and the group has
performed five world premieres: Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), Bolcom's Symphony
No. 7 (2002), Shen's Legend (2002), and Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007)
and Time Regained (2007).
The orchestra's high standing led to its first commercial recordings in nearly 20 years:
Wagner's complete Ring cycle, conducted by James Levine. Recorded by Deutsche
Grammophon over a period of three years, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and
Götterdämmerung were winners of an unprecedented three consecutive Grammy Awards
in 1989, 1990, and 1991 for Best Opera Recording. Other recordings under Maestro Levine
include L'elisir d'amore, Idomeneo, Le nozze di Figaro, Der
fliegende Holländer, Parsifal, Erwartung, Manon Lescaut,
and seven Verdi operas. Maestro Levine has also led the orchestra for recordings of Wagner
overtures, Verdi ballet music, an all-Berg disc with Renée Fleming, and aria albums with
Bryn Terfel, Kathleen Battle, and Ms. Fleming. The orchestra's first symphonic recordings
are pairings of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with Stravinsky's Le
Sacre du printemps; Beethoven's "Eroica" with Schubert's "Unfinished" symphonies; and
Richard Strauss's Don Quixote and Tod und Verklärung.
In spring 1991 the orchestra, under the leadership of Maestro Levine, began concert
touring. They have since traveled across the US and to Europe (including their debut at the
Salzburg Festival in 2002), as well as annually to Carnegie Hall. This May, the orchestra
returns to Japan for its sixth tour in 23 years.
Marking his 40th consecutive season at the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine conducts nine
operas in 2010-2011, including opening night's Das Rheingold premiere; the new
production in April of Die Walküre; revivals of Don Pasquale, Simon
Boccanegra, Wozzeck, and Il Trovatore; three performances of The
Bartered Bride at Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater (with the Juilliard Orchestra
and members of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program); and a June tour to
Japan with Don Carlo and La bohème. He and the MET Orchestra are heard in
three concerts at Carnegie Hall and one in Tokyo with soloists Simon O'Neill, Michelle
DeYoung, Evgeny Kissin, Natalie Dessay, Anna Netrebko, and Mariusz Kwiecien; Mr. Levine and
the MET Chamber Ensemble also give two performances in Weill and Zankel halls here this
season, featuring the music of Boulez, Satie, Webern, Perle, Kirchner, Foss, and
Maestro Levine leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra in three programs at Carnegie Hall in
March (with soloists Christian Tetzlaff and Maurizio Pollini). His seventh season as Music
Director of the BSO began with an all-Wagner program with Bryn Terfel on October 2, and
includes the world premiere of a commissioned violin concerto by Harrison Birtwistle, the
first BSO performances of John Harbison's Second Symphony (as part of a two-season cycle of
all the Harbison symphonies as well as the world premiere of his Sixth, another Boston
Symphony commission), and Mahler's Second, Fifth, and Ninth symphonies for the 150th
anniversary of his birth in 1860 and the 100th of his death in 1911.
James Levine makes his debut in May with the Staatskapelle Berlin and Mahler's Sixth
Symphony in the German capital, before joining the Met company for a three-week tour of
Japan (where he will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his debut on June 5 with Don
Carlo in Nagoya) and returning to the BSO's Tanglewood Festival (July 8-August 3),
where his summer season ends with the world premiere of Charles Wuorinen's It Happens
Like This on texts of James Tate with fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center-some 10
weeks before he leads the MET Orchestra in the world premiere of Harbison's Closer to
My Own Life on texts of Alice Munro here at Carnegie Hall.