The MET Orchestra
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 (as the ensemble is referred to when appearing in concert outside the
opera house) maintains a demanding schedule of performances and rehearsals during its
33-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, Barenboim, and Muti. 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 (2009).
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
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.
David Robertson made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1996 leading The
Makropulos Case, and has returned to lead Carmen, Die Entführung aus dem
Serail, and this month's performances of Billy Budd. He is currently music
director of the St. Louis Symphony and principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony
Orchestra. Highlights of his current season include appearances at Carnegie Hall with the
St. Louis Symphony and today with the MET Orchestra, the world premiere of Elliott Carter's
Two Controversies and a Conversation and the US premiere of a new work by
Michael Jarrell with the New York Philharmonic, and appearances with the Sydney and
Melbourne symphony orchestras, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and at the Aspen
Music Festival. Next fall, he takes the St. Louis Symphony on a European tour with concerts
in London, Berlin, Lucerne, and Paris.
A native of Santa Monica, California, Mr. Robertson is a frequent guest conductor with
major orchestras and opera houses around the world that include the New York Philharmonic,
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Orchestra of St.
Luke's, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Berliner
With more than 45 operas in his repertoire, Maestro Robertson has appeared at many of the
world's most prestigious opera houses, including La Scala, Opéra de Lyon, Munich's Bavarian
State Opera, Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet, Hamburg State Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and San