Last Look at the Old Met is Judith Clancy's personal last portrait, in "beautifully evocative line drawings" (Opera News) and text, of New York's old Metropolitan Opera House before its demolition in 1966. "There is a gaiety of line which captures, in black and white, the golden opulence of the magnificent old relic. In the drawing of the Family Circle, which was even higher than the last elevator stop, one can almost smell the garlic." (San Francisco Examiner). "Judith Clancy, who drew them, writes as beguilingly about herself as she draws the old Met." (Mary Campbell, Associated Press).
"Tell me, Harry, what's the consensus in your cell block on saving the old Met?" That line spoken in Whitney Darrow, Jr.'s New Yorker cartoon by a prison-visiting wife indicated the feeling generated in 1966 as scheduled demolition of the 83-year-old Metropolitan Opera House drew near.
It's hard for the generations of opera lovers born since to realize the emotional impact caused by that demolition. They should read this book.
Public committees were organized for and against preservation of the building which, when completed in 1883, had been called by a rival impresario "that new yellow brewery on Broadway" but came to be loved by millions.
The move to save the building, even though the Metropolitan Opera itself had moved to Lincoln Center, had strong support. But the Save-the-Old-Met drive failed, the fight was abandoned and the building was razed, to be replaced at Broadway and 39th Street by a new structure housing showrooms and offices for the fashion industry.
Among those who reacted was Judith Clancy. As a small girl living in a tenement in New York her love of music and the dance had been nurtured from the Family Circle high up in the Met.
She returned to New York before the demolition to make these drawings, the last of which was finished as the lights went down for the final performance in the house. Her book is a personal last portrait of that house by a talented artist who dreamed there as a child, studied there as a dancer, learned there to love ballet and then the opera and who was courted there.
$9.95 Hardcover, 54 pages