Viewpoint: Anniversary Celebration

by F. Paul Driscoll.

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Justino Díaz and Leontyne Price in Antony and Cleopatra

FIFTY YEARS AGO THIS MONTH, in December 1966, the Metropolitan Opera was well into its first season in its new home at Lincoln Center. On December 1, the Met offered its eighth and final presentation of Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, the opera that had inaugurated the new house on September 19. Leontyne Price and Justino Díaz were Cleopatra and Antony, under the baton of Thomas Schippers. Price and Díaz were both kept busy at the Met that season: Price’s other Met assignments in New York and on tour in 1966–67 included Donna Anna, Aida and Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, and Díaz sang the Commendatore, Ramfis, Méphistophélès, Raimondo in Lucia and Alvise in La Gioconda.

In those years, Opera News was published weekly during the radio-broadcast season. The list of the five December 1966 broadcasts is an impressive one—Turandot with Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli and Mirella Freni; Elektra with Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, Regina Resnik and James King; Die Frau ohne Schatten with Rysanek, King, Walter Berry, Christa Ludwig and Irene Dalis; Faust with Gabriella Tucci, Díaz and John Alexander; and Lucia di Lammermoor with Joan Sutherland and Richard Tucker.  

The company’s first season at Lincoln Center was the most ambitious in its history up to that time: in addition to Antony and Cleopatra, the Met unveiled new productions of La Traviata, La Gioconda, Elektra, Lohengrin, Die Zauberflöte and Peter Grimes, plus the company premiere of Die Frau ohne Schatten and the world premiere of Marvin David  Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra. The Met is celebrating its golden anniversary at Lincoln Center in a variety of ways. There is a special exhibit currently on view in Founder’s Hall, a number of interesting articles have been posted on the Met website, and on Sunday, May 7, the Met will present a special all-star gala. spacer 

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