The Philly Pops on Monday announced more shows at the Met Philadelphia.
The Pops anticipates performing at the North Broad Street venue about a dozen times over the next two years, said Pops president and CEO Frank Giordano, and now carries the title of the Met’s “principal orchestra,” he said.
"I look at this as an extension of the Avenue of the Arts northward," said Giordano. "For us, it gives us another venue literally in our own backyard."
The Pops will continue its main series at the Kimmel Center, but in February announced the start of its relationship with the Met and operator Live Nation with a Freddie Mercury tribute this November.
Now, the Pops says it will do more shows at the Met, including moving of two of its Christmas shows with singer Mandy Gonzalez from the Kimmel to the Met; those two concerts will feature the addition of as-yet-unannounced Live Nation rhythm and blues artists.
Live Nation regional president Geoff Gordon declined to say whether a contract exists between Live Nation and the Pops or how long it might last. The Pops is referring to the relationship as a “partnership.”
Giordano said expanding programming to another venue wasn’t something the Pops could have considered five years ago — the group exited from bankruptcy in 2012, and has since retooled its programming and conducting roster — but added that sales were strong, and this was a good time to explore growth.
The amenities at the Met are attractive because they allow the Pops to entertain donors, said Giordano.
“I don’t think you’re more than 50 feet from any bar, they’ll serve food in the boxes. I think it’s a different experience, and it will attract a different audience,” he said. "Because there are 3,200 seats we’ll be able to bring in different guest artists, which is something we can’t afford to do with 2,200 seats or 2,300 seats.” (Verizon Hall has a capacity of 2,500.)
In addition to the two Christmas shows, the Pops is also planning two screenings of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Oct. 24 and 25) with the Pops playing the score live to the 1993 film, the first of several anticipated projects with the Walt Disney Co. Previously announced is an Aug. 5 concert with Sarah McLachlan.
The Met opera house was built by Oscar Hammerstein, grandfather of Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers’ collaborator on shows like The Sound of Music and The King and I. The facility at Broad and Poplar Streets was recently renovated, and in December re-opened as a concert venue for pop and commercial acts.