Music: Cups and Hats

Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera is about the best in the world. For nearly half a century, however, its financial setup has been nearly as musty as some of its scenery. The Metropolitan Opera Association, which produces the operas, does not own the dirty, mustard-colored building on midtown Broadway, but leases it from the Metropolitan Opera and Real Estate Co. This organization is nothing more nor less than the owners of the Metropolitan's 35 parterre boxes ("Diamond Horseshoe"). Each box holder owns 300 shares of $100-par stock, and liability for a possible annual assessment up to $15 a share.

Manhattan society has let its...

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