The company said that the gift would support "increased artistic activities and audience development projects."
In an interview with the New York Times, general manager Joseph Volpe said that the funds would also be used to eliminate the budget deficit, reported to exceed $4 million, that the company is running for the current season. The money may also go to support the Met's Saturday-afternoon radio broadcasts, he said.
Mercedes Bass has been a managing director of the Metropolitan Opera since 1993; she and her husband, a Texas-based investor, have helped to fund a series of new productions at the company as well as the MET Orchestra's concert series at Carnegie Hall.
"We are thrilled to support the excellence of the Metropolitan Opera, one of New York's greatest assets as well as a national and world wide treasure, with this gift," Mercedes Bass said in a statement. "Our involvement with The Metropolitan Opera over the years has given us many memorable and pleasurable musical moments."
William C. Morris, the Met's president and chief executive officer, said, "This gift is particularly timely coming during the transition in management from Joseph Volpe to Peter Gelb." Gelb, most recently the president of Sony Classical, takes over as general manager at the end of the 2005-06 season, and is expected to bring additional star power and new multimedia initiatives to the venerable company.