The Metropolitan Opera is not simply a great presenting institution. Because the Met is both our most important American opera company and one of the six or so world leaders in operatic production, it has a duty beyond doing vocally and theatrically attractive performances of important works. Such an accomplishment, valuable and difficult as it is, is hardly enough, for it suggests that artists need preach only to the converted. But under the conditions of modern democratic life the audience for high art, a category to which opera now assuredly belongs, is not necessarily self-generating or self-perpetuating. The duty of great artistic institutions is to reach out to a public wider than the closed circle of devotees and fans and to help that public witness, understand, and participate in the art—perhaps even to become the seed bed of something genuinely new and permanent. The goal can all be summed up in one word:...


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