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
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, 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 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.
Fabio Luisi was named principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in September 2011. He
made his Met debut in 2005, leading Verdi's Don Carlo, and has since returned to
the company for performances of Die Ägyptische Helena, Simon Boccanegra,
Turandot, Elektra, Le Nozze di Figaro, Hansel and
Gretel, Ariadne auf Naxos, Rigoletto, Tosca, Lulu,
and Das Rheingold. This past summer, he joined the company for a tour of Japan,
leading Don Carlo, La Bohème, and a concert with the MET Orchestra in
Tokyo. He has previously conducted the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on two occasions:
last May with soloist Natalie Dessay and this past October. This season, Maestro Luisi
appears at the Met conducting Don Giovanni, Wagner's Ring cycle,
Massenet's Manon, and La Traviata.
A native of Genoa, Italy, Maestro Luisi is currently chief conductor of the Vienna
Symphony and artistic director of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. He served
as general music director of the Saxon State Opera and Staatskapelle Dresden from 2007 to
2010, artistic director of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig from 1999 to 2007, music
director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande from 1997 to 2002, and chief conductor of
Austria's Tonkünstler Orchestra from 1995 to 2000. He has appeared with many of the world's
most renowned orchestras and opera companies, including the New York Philharmonic,
Orchestre de Paris, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, the Chicago and Boston
Symphony Orchestras, the Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Munich
Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna
State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Berlin's Deutsche Oper and State Opera, and the Royal
Opera House, Covent Garden. He made his Salzburg Festival debut in 2002.