The newly renovated Met Philadelphia re-opened this week with performances by folk-rock icon Bob Dylan and pop singer John Legend.
The 3,400-capacity 110,000-square-foot opera house was saved from desolation through a partnership with Live Nation that included a a $56 million overhaul of the property.
The century-old building was first opened to the public in 1908 by opera impresario Oscar Hammerstein, who built the venue to assist Philadelphia in its bid to challenge New York City as the cultural center of the Northeast.
However, despite two sold-out seasons, the opera failed to be a profit-maker for the theater and the company sold the venue to their rivals, the Metropolitan Opera, who occupied the building until 1920.
Metropolitan Opera House hosted more than 100 opera performances before it was repurposed into a radio studio and a movie house until the 1940s when it was purchased by a sports promoter who redeveloped the property as an indoor athletic center.
In 1954, the property was taken over by a church led by the Rev. Theo Jones, but the building was finally shuttered in 1988 in the face of declining church membership and spiraling costs for property upkeep.
The stately opera house faced demolition by the city over structural issues but was thrown a lifeline in 1996 when it was purchased by Reverend Mark Hatcher for his Holy Ghost Headquarters Revival Center. Over the next 15 years, the church invested more than $5M USD to stabilize the building.
In 2017, Hatcher’s church signed a deal with Live Nation to lease the property, with plans for a major renovation, which was completed in December of this year.
The building was formally opened on Monday night, with a performance by Bob Dylan, who performed a two-hour set replete with material drawn from his deep catalog.
Dylan was followed the next night with a concert by singer-songwriter John Legend, who brought his Christmas tour to the venue, performing in front of a sold-out crowd.
Upcoming shows at The Met include Weezer on Dec 12th; Ween on Dec 14th; Pentatonix on Dec. 15th & 16th; and Lindsey Stirling on Dec. 18th.