The Metropolitan Opera Guild is a supporting organization for the New York City Metropolitan Opera.
It was formed after the Great Depression when the Opera was experiencing funding problems. Its purpose was to reach out to both current and potential audience members beyond the traditional upper-class audience. It offered educational insights about opera and the opera world through local events, workshops, publications for enthusiasts and for educators. Beginning in the 1935/36 season the Guild soon reached 2,000 members in its first year of operations, and was able to make its first gift to the Metropolitan Opera: a new cyclorama.
Throughout the 1930s membership continued to grow and they were able to underwrite the fund needed for larger projects like a new production of Wagner's Ring Cycle and then to provide one third of the cost paid by the Metropolitan Opera Association to the house owned by the Metropolitan Opera and Real Estate Company.
The Guild furthered educational access on the art and artists of opera to opera lovers from across the country, many of whom only knew the Met from their weekly radio broadcasts. They share their knowledge with adults seeking to learn more, and through school programs reaching the next generation of opera lovers. The first student matinée was presented by the Guild in 1937 and access to live productions has continuously been offered ever since.
In the 1970s as arts education funding was severely cut, the Guild stepped in to assist teachers. From teacher training to in school artist residency programs, the Guild offers age-appropriate, research-based arts education to all grades, in ways that are connected to the school curriculum and the needs of teachers.
Most well known may be their publication Opera News which was tested first as a newsletter but quickly became the leading publication devoted to opera. From backstage tours to various events, the Metropolitan Opera Guild has expanded the way many people become acquainted with where opera comes from.