High above the stage at the old Met opera house at 39th and Broadway, the world’s first recordings of opera in performance are made on Edison wax cylinders.
January 12, 1910
Opera broadcasting begins: Portions of Tosca,Cavalleria Rusticana, and Pagliacci reach a few hundred listeners (via telephone!) as far away as Newark, New Jersey.
March 10, 1940
The first telecast: a bit of Pagliacci, live from Radio City. Opera News notes that NBC’s “list of over 2,000 television fans is constantly on the increase.” In 1948, the first full telecast goes out to 477,600 viewers.
December 11, 1952
Prefiguring today’s theater broadcasts, a closed-circuit telecast of Carmen is shown in 31 cinemas across the United States.
August 29, 1966
Before the first show at Lincoln Center, the turntable breaks under a load of 250 soldiers and one sphinx rehearsing Antony and Cleopatra. Stagehands spend opening night shoving it around.
Real advances begin! The Met box office begins accepting credit cards.
March 15, 1977
Live From the Met premieres on PBS. (After a few years, it switches to pretaped broadcasts, and becomes The Metropolitan Opera Presents.)
The “Met Titles” system, delivering simultaneous translations on little screens in front of each seat, appears. Purists screech; everyone else finally understands what’s going on.
October 25, 2006
Live Internet streaming of performances begins.
December 30, 2006
“Metropolitan Opera: Live in High Definition” is beamed via satellite into movie theaters across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan. Australia follows the next year.