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MET Backstage Tours

Have you ever wondered about the chassé-croisé of ballerinas behind the velvet curtains at a ballet? All the bustle from the change of scenery at the opera? The frenzy from the change of costumes between two acts at the theater? If so, there is a Sunday rendezvous you should not miss. Few people are in on the secret, but it is possible to visit the backstage of the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. Each week a small group goes behind the scenes and steps into the mysteries of this house of enchantment.

Visiting the MET backstage is like entering a temple of disproportion. The stage of the MET, one of the largest in the world, is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a much larger upstage behind, huge backstage spreading over 14 floors and dozens of workshops. In these entrails, scenery is assembled and costumes tailored. Because yes, at the MET opera, everything is made in house! You will visit the sewing workshop, a large room cluttered with heavily loaded hanging racks. The team of couturiers, prop masters and wigmakers is made of 75 people. It’s a hive of activity. Amid the jumble of fabrics and the stack of sewing patterns, you will catch sight of the costumes in preparation: Madame Butterfly’s elegant kimono decorated with a cherry blossom pattern or Manon Lescaut’s fluid drapery of bathrobe in the eponymous opera by Puccini. A few floors below, in the basement, is the accessories store. This Ali Baba’s cave is full of treasures as fabulous as they are wacky: cabinets loaded with bayonets and swords, aligned rows of halberds, a collection of kitchen accessories, the cart on which Musetta enters the second act in La Bohème (in representation at the MET for 35 years!).

Your visit will be punctuated by a few historical anecdotes. You will learn that the opera was originally on Broadway and 39th street before relocating to the Upper West Side in 1966. You’ll learn that the crystal chandeliers adorning the entrance and the auditorium were a gift from the Austrian government to thank the United States after World War II. There are also some funnier stories – you will learn that animals, too, are interviewed before taking part of a show and you will discover the special elevator that was designed to bring horses, donkeys and other animals on stage.

You will follow with delight your guide through the maze of this dreamlike labyrinth, you will visit the (austere) dressing rooms, the scenic and carpentry shops, the singers’ rehearsal rooms. Listen carefully –  you may be lucky enough to hear a soprano voice humming a tune from La Traviata at a turn in the maze of corridors before the curtain drops on your backstage tour.


Backstage Tours at the MET
Most weekdays at 3 pm & most Sundays at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm
Tickets at $25

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