A man walks past the former Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia, Thursday, May 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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The Metropolitan Opera is pulling out the finery this weekend to mark its golden anniversary at New York's Lincoln Center, but the celebration comes at a tough moment for opera in the United States.Met General Manager Peter Gelb said overall audience in the 2016-2017 season that celebrates the opera's 50 years "slightly" improved compared with last year, its first gain after several years of decline.Gelb said ticket sales to first-time buyers have been strong, but acknowledged that attracting new audience remains a work in progress. He said a priority was greater outreach to schools, in part through use of content from the Met's "Live in HD" program, which streams opera from the Met stage to cinemas worldwide.Another great star, the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti, premiered at the Met in 1968 in "La Boheme".Over time, the Met's scale, an asset during the era of peak opera, has started to look more like a burden.Music historian Affron said new productions introduced under Gelb have been uneven and that the Met's roster of singers is not as strong as in decades past.
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