Soon after moving to New York as a young professional (and before becoming a critic), I joined the venerable Metropolitan Opera Club. Arriving by subway one evening for a Met performance, I spotted an older club member on the platform and exited with him. Instead of following other operagoers through a subterranean tunnel to an escalator leading to the box-office area, he motioned to the left and we made our way to the street so as to approach the opera house head on. I’ve favored that route ever since. Through the five tall arches of the house’s façade, you can see the many-tiered foyer, two grand Chagall murals on either side, red-carpeted staircases, crystal chandeliers from the Austrian government, eating and drinking facilities, and dozens of people destined to see the same performance as you. The sight exudes grandeur and expansiveness, as befits a cultural landmark with over 3,800 hundred...


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