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Sept. 16, 1966: Metropolitan Opera House opens

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A full house packed New York City's new Metropolitan Opera House for a performance of Samuel Barber’s “Antony and Cleopatra” in September 1966, with everyone dressed to the nines and rightfully expecting big things.

Although the house had a few preview events earlier that year, including sound tests (the oddest: a shotgun blast), this was the first time it would host a real event with an expectant crowd of opera lovers.

“The Met,” the centerpiece of Lincoln Center, does everything big. With 3,800 seats, it is one of the world’s largest opera houses. Even its curtain is the world’s largest. Its décor is the height of sixties style, with gold accents in the auditorium, giant starburst chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and 30-foot abstract Chagall murals in the lobby.

Now, the design may be a reminder of what was once considered grand, but the Metropolitan Opera Company has moved into the 21st century with high-tech productions (including 3-D effects and hydraulic moving stages) and outreach programs that involve showing performances in movie theaters and offering discounted “rush” tickets.

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