Skip to main content

The Metropolitan Opera on Tour collection

Identifier: PA040

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes administrative records (bulk), press clippings, programs. photographs, slides, two videotapes, and three scrapbooks.


  • Creation: 1945-1986

Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

The collection is available for use by researchers in the Andersen Library Reading Room.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright is retained by the copyright holder.

Historical Note

The Metropolitan Opera made its first Minneapolis appearance on the stage of Northrop Auditorium in the Spring of 1945. Four operas were performed in three days, Lucia di Lammermoor, Die Walkuri, Don Giovanni and Carmen. Over the years, the length of the tour increased, as did the number of operas performed. For forty-one years, the return of the Met to Northrop was one more sign that summer had returned to Minnesota.

The University of Minnesota and the Orchestral Association of Minneapolis (later called the Minnesota Orchestral Association) jointly sponsored the tour. James S. Lombard, Director of the Department of Concerts and Lectures, and a designated member of the Orchestral Association, jointly held the title of Local Manager and organized the yearly tours. In 1969, Ross D. Smith became director upon Lombard's retirement. He and Richard Cisek, the Managing Director, and later President of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, were Co-Managers of the tour until Smith's retirement in 1984. From 1985 to 1986 the tour was jointly managed by Dale Schatzlein, Smith's successor, and Richard Cisek.

In 1945 a Guaranty Fund was established to cover deficits if a season faired poorly. Ticket sales and contributions from guarantors met, and even exceeded, the costs of the yearly opera presentations until 1970, when losses were experienced for the first time. This loss was covered by guarantors and the reserve fund. As a result of this deficit, a donor category called "Friends of the Opera" was established in 1971. Financial problems continued to plague the tour in spite of efforts to increase the number of contributors. Major corporate support was received for the first time in 1983 from Merrill Lynch, to help offset increasing costs.

Policies pertaining to the Spring Tour were established by the Executive Committee. A Working Committee, consisting of the combined staff of the Department of Concerts and Lectures and the Orchestra, were responsible for the day-to-day planning of the tour. In 1981 the Metropolitan Opera in the Upper Midwest (MOUM) was established. This non-profit corporation formalized the operating of the Spring Tour and was managed by a Board of Directors. John H. Myers served as the Board's Chairman until 1983 when he was succeeded by Charles S. Bellows.

Opera in the Upper Midwest was promoted largely by women volunteers. These Opera Chairmen (later called Opera Representatives), with the aid of local committees, sold tickets and solicited contributions in their areas. They represented the Twin Cities, outstate Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North and South Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska and Saskatchewan. Chairmen were given priority tickets to the opera and were invited to many of the social events held during opera week. This hard working corps of opera lovers contributed significantly to the success of the Spring Tour.

An annual Mid-Year Dinner was held in January for Opera Chairmen and committee members. Speakers from the Metropolitan Opera often spoke at the mid-year event. In 1970, a workshop was also added as part of the program. Promotional kits were distributed to chairman consisting of ticket order forms, posters and publicity material. Many social events were held during opera week as well. For information on these events see Special Events series. The Spring Tour ended in 1986. The reluctance of big-name singers to tour, Northrop's small stage, low quality presentations, lack-lustre performances, few new productions, and too many operas being performed in a short time span, as well as the ever increasing cost of production, were blamed for discontinuing the tour. The expense of mounting extravagant productions and moving them quickly from city to city was a logistic nightmare for the Metropolitan Opera. The last performance closed with a standing ovation from the audience--a tribute to the end of a tradition of grand opera for Minnesota.


8 Linear Feet (8 boxes (6 record cartons, 2 flat boxes))


Collection contains administrative records, programs, press clippings, photographs, videotapes, scrapbooks, and slides of Metropolitan Opera performances at Northrop Memorial Auditorium, University of Minnesota.


The collection is organized in the following series:

  1. Board of Directors
  2. Fundraising
  3. Photographs, Negatives, and Slides
  4. Press Clippings
  5. Programs
  6. Scrapbooks
  7. Special Events
  8. Tour Files
  9. Videotapes

Physical Location



Materials in the collection have been donated by multiple donors. A bulk of the collection was transferred from the University of Minnesota Archives to the Performing Arts Archives in 2017.

Related Material

Related materials in the University of Minnesota Libraries include: Minnesota Orchestra records (PA012).

Processing Information

The collection was processed and the finding aid written by University of Minnesota Archives staff and Performing Arts Archives staff.

The Metropolitan Opera on Tour: Northrop Auditorium Collection
Kathryn Hujda
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Performing Arts Archives Collecting Area