The [Metropolitan Opera House] is pressing forward with a project to preserve, and in many cases locate, nearly 1,400 recordings of its Saturday broadcasts. Met officials said they have completed 403 preservations, with 868 still to go, spending about $1.4 million in an open-ended project that is predicted to cost more than $4 million.
“It is one of the most important parts of the Met’s heritage,” said Sarah Billinghurst, the assistant manager for artistic affairs, who also oversees the media department. She called the recordings the “day in and day out history of what was,” and also a potential source of income from downloading or commercial release – “which is always something desperately needed.”
[…] One archival recording is released each year and is available to benefactors who contribute at least $150. Some of the recordings are also available at the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center, where opera fanatics congregate for daily listening.
[…] The Met does not release the recordings because paying the house’s unions for broadcast rights is prohibitively expensive, Ms. Billinghurst said, although she said Joseph Volpe and Peter Gelb, the departing and incoming general managers, are talking to the unions about the issue. The donor releases are allowed under a special agreement.