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
as many as seven times a week in repertory that this season encompasses 26 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, Muti and Rattle. 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 six world premieres: John Harbison's Closer to My Own Life, Milton
Babbitt's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998), William Bolcom's Symphony No. 7 (2002), Hsueh-Yung
Shen's Legend (2002), and Charles Wuorinen's Theologoumenon (2007) and
Time Regained (2009).
Music Director James Levine has developed a relationship with the Metropolitan Opera that
is unparalleled in its history and unique in the musical world today. Since his company
debut in 1971, he has led nearly 2,500 performances of 85 operas at the Met, both in New
York and on tour. This season at the Met, he conducts a new production of Mozart's Le
Nozze di Figaro and a revival of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
(both of which will be transmitted live in HD), as well as revivals of Verdi's Un Ballo
in Maschera, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Verdi's Ernani,
and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. He also leads all three concerts of the MET
Orchestra's annual subscription series at Carnegie Hall and two concerts by the MET Chamber
Ensemble in Weill and Zankel halls.
Maestro Levine founded the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 1980, and
returned Wagner's complete Ring to the repertoire in 1989 (in the
first integral cycles in 50 years at the Met). He and the MET Orchestra began touring in
concert in 1991, and since then they have performed around the world, including at Expo '92
in Seville, in Japan, across the US, and throughout Europe.
In addition to his responsibilities at the Met, Mr. Levine has been a distinguished
pianist and an active and avid recital collaborator, especially in lieder and song
repertoire. He began accompanying such artists as Jennie Tourel, Hans Hotter, and Eleanor
Steber more than 50 years ago, and since that time has given recitals with most of the
great singers of our time. From 1973 to 1993, he was music director of the Ravinia
Festival, summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; became chief conductor from 1999
to 2004 of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra; and served as music director of the Verbier
Festival Youth Orchestra from 2000 to 2004. From 2004 to 2011, he was music director of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra. Between 1996 and 2000, he led more than a dozen concerts on the
Three Tenors World Tour, and he was conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the
soundtrack of Disney's Fantasia 2000. He has conducted every major orchestra in
America and Europe.