The Metropolitan Opera announced that The Robert K. Johnson Foundation would become the new sponsor of its Saturday Matinee Radio Broadcasts, ensuring that one of the world’s most cherished broadcast traditions will live on for the coming decade.
Beginning with Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas on December 9, 27 broadcasts will be presented over The Robert K. Johnson Foundation–Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network next season. “The Saturday Matinee Broadcasts have been a vital tool for connecting the Met to audiences across the globe,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager. “The Robert K. Johnson Foundation’s investment in this 92-year tradition will keep the vibrancy of opera on the airwaves for years to come and ensure that this art form remains accessible to millions of listeners.” The sponsorship will extend through the 2031–32 season, which will mark the 100th year of the broadcasts, the longest-running classical-music program on American radio, and one of the best-known around the world. The series started on December 25, 1931, with Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. The Broadcasts are heard on some 600 stations across the country and in 35 countries, reaching millions of listeners each year. They have become a vital lifeline of opera to listeners far from opera houses and have inspired countless future opera-philes and singers.
Debra Lew Harder is the Broadcasts’ current host, the fifth full-time host in the history of the series, following Milton Cross, Peter Allen, Margaret Juntwait, and Mary Jo Heath.
The 2023–24 season will include four Met premieres: Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; Anthony Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X; Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, the company’s first opera in Spanish in nearly a century; and John Adams’s El Niño. The lineup will also feature new productions of Bizet’s Carmen and Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, as well as revivals of beloved classics by Mozart, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, and Gluck. In addition, the broadcast season will highlight historic performances from the Met’s vast radio archives, including the annual Listeners’ Choice, which is selected by popular vote.
“Mr. Johnson has long held the Met Saturday Matinee Radio Broadcasts in a special place in his heart and in his Saturday schedule,” Thomas Patrick Dore, Jr., the foundation’s executive director, said. “The Foundation is thankful for the opportunity to continue in the tradition of the Toll Brothers Family in supporting the Metropolitan Opera.”
The Robert K. Johnson Foundation is only the third sponsor of the Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, following Texaco and, for the past 18 years, Toll Brothers.