Metropolitan Opera House‘Tis the season for performing arts companies to promote their new seasons.

The Metropolitan Opera recently announced its plans for the gala opening night program of its 125th Anniversary season scheduled for March 15, 2009. As reported in today’s New York Times, “the evening will feature stars, so far unnamed, performing in costume before projected sets recreating historic moments at the Met.”

Anniversaries always bring an organization’s archives to the forefront and the Metropolitan Opera Archives can be justly proud not only of its ongoing contributions to the company’s Web site as a whole, but to the interesting resources it provides to the public on its own portion of the site. The most prominent of these tools is the MetOpera Database, but there are other riches available on the site as well. I was struck anew by this fact while reading through the Times obituary of tenor Giuseppe di Stefano, which concludes with his own musings on his career and reputation in later life: “I don’t have to go around insisting that I had one of the great voices. Fortunately, I made enough recordings to let people judge for themselves.” Those seeking instant gratification can simply click on over to the Sounds of the Met portion of the Metropolitan Opera Archives site, which makes it easy to find at least one or two samples of just about every major performer who appeared at the Met.

By sheer coincidence, I also noticed that yesterday marked the anniversary of the death of baritone Leonard Warren on stage during a performance of La Forza del Destino in 1960, arguably one of the most dramatic moments in Met history. Hopefully this won’t be one of those “historic moments” recreated in the 2009 gala.

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID #1558429