Even I can't always make there three hours early. So another way to get into the Met on the cheap is to purchase standing room tickets. That you can do on its web. They will allow you to sit down after the first intermission if there are empty seats available. I went to see Don Carlo last time. It started at 7pm and finished well passed 12am, and made to home by 2am. :-)
Speaking about meeting at the Met. it is from one of the posting in your blog I found out that Su Wei, my old aquaintence, is also a veteran music lover. So I called him up at Yale. Suprisingly I found out that he had never been to the Met. So I invited him to the show Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci one night together, featuring so called 'the fouth tenor' Lecitra. We were not very impressed by the performance. Nevertheless, we had a great time.
>>If possible, you may go to the Met two hours before the show to get tickets at discount for $20 which are $80 or $100 at regular price Monday through Thursday except for some of the special performances. most of times, discount tickets are sold out in a half hour. So be there much earlier.
>>I agree with your comments on watching operas on DVD and TV. most of them were produced on small budgets. so qualities were poor. Zeffrilli(?), a great opera director, used to produce some of great opera movies.