In light of its offerings these past few seasons, one hardly expects from the Metropolitan Opera the excitement of the new and untried, either in repertoire or in production. Still, it might be argued that the chief duty of a first-rank opera house is not to dispense novelty, but to stage standard works in a fashion appropriate to the dignity of the acknowledged masterpieces and to the first-rank voices at its disposal.

In fact, because there are so few operatic institutions in this country with the resources for large casts and lavish productions, it has fallen to the Met to play a key role in preserving the operatic tradition. One indication of the company’s national importance has been its Saturday matinee radio broadcasts, which over the past fifty years have introduced a great number of classics to the American public.

Recently, however, the Met has failed to five up...


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