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Bringing Opera to the World During a Pandemic

Still from La Boheme

Ailyn Pérez as Mimì and Matthew Polenzani as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème. Photo: Evan Zimmerman / Met Opera

For nearly 90 years, the Met has been the undisputed leader in bringing live performances to opera lovers everywhere. It started with our radio broadcasts in 1930, continued with the addition of PBS telecasts, and for the last 14 years, has expanded through Live in HD performances in movie theaters in 73 countries, and the creation of the 24-hour Met Opera Radio station on SiriusXM. We also have thousands of subscribers to our streaming service, Met Opera on Demand, and our educational programs reach 15,000 children in 40 states.

In March, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly challenged us to find a way to provide opera to a world in which all the opera houses were closed. We began on March 16 with free nightly streams of Live in HD encore performances on our website. The beautiful music, unparalleled singing, and compelling productions have been a source of comfort and escape from the harsh realities of these challenging times.

As of June, we have had more than 7.5 million views of our nightly streams. Many have supported the Met's emergency fundraising campaign, and we have gained more than 12,000 new supporters, some of whom are new opera lovers.

The Met's education department has put together an online curriculum for elementary through high school students, focused on one free opera stream per week. Each lesson plan culminates in a discussion with some of the performers and stage directors who worked on the selected opera. For example, on April 22, Renée Fleming and Susan Stroman engaged with students from Indiana to India about the evening's performance of The Merry Widow. More than 40,000 young people have participated in this program.

A highlight of the spring was the Met's At-Home Gala on April 25, hosted by Peter Gelb and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, with live performances by over 40 of the world's premier opera stars from their homes around the globe, from Russia to France to Louisiana. It also featured technically and artistically incredible performances by the Met Orchestra and Chorus from their homes, conducted by Maestro Nézet-Séguin. More than 725,000 people tuned in to the event.

The Met remains committed to keeping opera alive and well while opera venues remain dark. We are implementing new programming ideas, including a summer opera camp for kids and weekly live events for the public, in addition to continuing our free nightly streams throughout the summer.

We'd like to express our deepest appreciation to our supporters, who are helping to sustain the company, as well as the art form, during the pandemic. We are aware that many people are reviewing their estate plans in these unprecedented times. If you are one of them and want to include the Met, please contact Pamela Bennett at 212-870-7388 or encoresociety@metopera.org.