Metropolitan Opera

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One of the less common postcards of the Metropolitan Opera is this vertical card showing the main entrance. One can barely read the billboard on the front which advertises one of the Met's then popular Sunday matinee concerts. This postcard sent in 1904 as a birthday greeting, is an unusual vertical view, giving us the unexpected perspective of wide open space on the city streets. Trolley tracks are visible down Broadway and street lights have been erected on the corners. The nickname for the first Metropolitan Opera house was "The Yellow Brick Brewery." Although this is a common postcard, the publisher tried to capture the color of the facade. This is a post-1907 postcard, with a divided back. The new Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center opened its doors on 16 Sep 1966 with the world premiere of Barber's Antony and Cleopatra. Postcards from the 1960s, not having the elegance and popularity of its earlier ancestors, were often thrown out.
The Metropolitan Opera opened its doors for the first time on 23 Oct 1883 at 39th and Broadway. The building was financed by wealthy New Yorkers, among them the Vanderbilts and Astors, and it was no accident that special seating was provided for these patrons in 122 very visible boxes. The elite of the group sat in a line of boxes called the "Golden Horseshoe." After a fire gutted the interior of the building in the summer of 1892, the number of boxes was reduced to seventy, divided between two tiers. By 1940, to remove poor sight lines and increase seating, the Grand Tier boxes were removed leaving only the parterre boxes. The damage from the 1892 fire was estimated at $300,000 at a time when the building was insured for only $60,000. However, even with the renovations the Metropolitan Opera always had physical inadequacies: continued poor sight lines, a small stage and backstage, and very little storage space. Rehearsals took place on the main stage; the chorus sought out any unoccupied room (usually the smoking room or the ladies' parlor) and the ballet rehearsed in what later became Sherry's Restaurant. Costumes, sets, wigs, props, and accessories were all brought to the House as needed for each performance. It was inevitable that the Company would seek a new home. In the 1920s John D. Rockefeller included a new home for the Metropolitan Opera in the plans for Rockefeller Center but by the 1930s the idea was shelved due to the Depression. In 1966 the Metropolitan Opera moved to its present location in the Lincoln Center complex. After a small effort to "save the Met," the original home of the Metropolitan Opera Company was denied landmark status and subsequently demolished in 1967.
1950s Opening Night. One of the more collectible (and hard to find) "new" Metropolitan Opera postcards is the folder variation. This one was published exclusively for the Metropolitan Opera Association. It contains six interior views and eight exterior views.
Unusual reverse view - c1900
This interior postcard of the early Met is also a rare one to collect. It was published by Raphael Tuck and Sons, Series 2652, "New York." Geraldine Farrar is seen at center stage by the prompter's box. This postcard, from a series of views displayed within a painter's palette, was published by I. Stern in Brooklyn. Postcards can be found with views displayed inside of seashells, butterflies, and a wide assortment of other decorative borders. Between 1896 and 1898 the American Souvenir Card Company's "New York" set was printed in 1897. Number 8 from that set, which features the Metropolitan Opera, is the earliest mass-produced postcard of the Metropolitan Opera.