Since offering its debut performance of Faust in 1883, the Metropolitan Opera, aka "The Met," has earned a place among the most renowned classical institutions in the world. At its founding, the Met was the scrappy underdog of New York society, featuring ad hoc performances from second-tier European performers. But over the next four decades the institution flourished under the leadership of Maurice Grau, Heinrich Conried and Giulio Gatti-Casazza, three directors who established its pristine reputation by attracting internationally celebrated singers and directors, including Enrico Caruso, the era's most illustrious tenor, and conductor Arturo Toscanini. Surviving the depression and two world wars, its popularity soared after initiating radio broadcasts with a production of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel on Christmas day, 1931. James Levine has guided the institution though recent years after becoming principle conductor in 1973 and taking on additional responsibilities as the Musical Director two years later. Today, the Metropolitan Opera holds a residency at the Lincoln Center and offers more than 200 performances a year.