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Topics in Chronicling America - The First Metropolitan Opera House

The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City opens on October 22, 1883 with a performance of Gounod's "Faust." The Metropolitan Opera Company is only able to perform for nine seasons before a fire destroys the building in August of 1892. Now known as "the Old Met," the building at 39th and Broadway was rebuilt and reopened in 1893, where the Metropolitan Opera Company performed for the next 73 years. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

Picture of the Met

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • April 1880: The Metropolitan Opera Company is founded by a group of wealthy industrialists and prominent families.
  • October 22, 1883: The Metropolitan Opera House, located on Broadway and 39th Street, opens its doors. Henry E. Abbey serves as manager for the inaugural season, which opened with a performance of Gounod’s Faust starring the Swedish soprano Christine Nilsson.
  • August 1892: A fire destroys much of the interior of the Opera House, forcing it to close until November of the following year.
  • November 1903: Under Heinrich Conried’s direction, the Opera House undergoes significant renovation. This is the last major renovation completed under the management of the Metropolitan Opera and Real Estate Company, which was replaced by new management in the 1940s.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Metropolitan Opera, Metropolitan Opera House, Abbey, fire, Oscar Hammerstein.
  • Because there are many articles and advertisements for the Opera, when searching for information on a specific event as opposed to an opera performance, be sure to include additional search terms and/or limit the period in which you search. Ex. When searching for information about the Opera House’s opening, include “Abbey” in your search terms and limit the dates of the search to October 1883. .

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  March 25, 2013
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