Premieres nationwide Friday, May 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)
This new documentary by multiple Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Susan Froemke surveys a remarkable period of the Metropolitan Opera’s rich history and a time of great change for New York City. Drawing on rarely seen archival footage, stills, and recent interviews, The Opera House chronicles the creation of the Met’s storied Lincoln Center home of the last 50 years, set against a backdrop of the artists, architects, and politicians who shaped the cultural life of New York City in the 50s and 60s. Amongst the notable figures featured in the film are famed soprano Leontyne Price, who opened the Met’s present Opera House in 1966 with a starring role in Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra; Rudolf Bing, the Met’s imperious General Manager who engineered the move from the old house to the new one; Robert Moses, the unstoppable city planner who bulldozed an entire neighborhood to make room for Lincoln Center; and Wallace Harrison, whose quest for architectural glory was never fully realized.
Press release soon to come.
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John D. Rockefeller III, right, hands a check to Mayor Robert Wagner to purchase the land for Lincoln Center, with city planner Robert Moses looking on. Credit: Queens library, Archives, New York Herald Tribune, Photo Collection
Architects work on a clay model for Lincoln Center (1958). Credit: Dan Weiner provided by Lincoln Center Archives © John Broderick
Architects (left to right: Wallace K. Harrison, Philip Johnson, Pietro Belluschi, Eero Saarinen, Max Abramovitz, Gordon Bunshaft) scrutinize a white-paper model for Lincoln Center (November 17, 1958). Credit: Dan Weiner provided by Lincoln Center Archives © John Broderick
A preliminary Wallace K. Harrison design for the new opera house at Lincoln Center. Rendering by Hugh Ferriss (1955). Credit: Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
An early Wallace K. Harrison design for the new opera house at Lincoln Center. Rendering by Hugh Ferriss (1956–57).
Credit: Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Met General Manager Rudolf Bing in his office at the old Met Credit: Sedge LeBlang / Metropolitan Opera Archives
Stagehands load scenery and props into a truck on Seventh Avenue outside the old Met. Credit: Metropolitan Opera Archives
City planner Robert Moses Credit: Douglas Kirkland / LOOK Photograph Magazine Collection
President Dwight D. Eisenhower breaking ground for Lincoln Center (1959) Credit: Courtesy of Lincoln Center Archives
Topping-Out Ceremony, January 20, 1964: Soprano Leontyne Price and tenor Robert Merrill perform and autograph the new Met’s highest steel beam. Credit: Courtesy of Lincoln Center Archives
Soprano Leontyne Price with composer Samuel Barber Credit: Metropolitan Opera Archives
The new Met under construction in May 1964 Credit: Metropolitan Opera Archives
Soprano Leontyne Price and director Franco Zeffirelli in rehearsal for Antony and Cleopatra (1966) Credit: Frank Dunand / Metropolitan Opera Archives
Soprano Leontyne Price as Cleopatra (1966) Credit: Louis Mélançon / Metropolitan Opera Archives
Leontyne Price in a 2017 interview Photo: Roger Phenix / Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera House (2017) Credit: Metropolitan Opera
The Opera House: Main Title Artwork Design: Molly Schwartz / Metropolitan Opera