The Metropolitan Opera House was located on 1411 Broadway in Manhattan, at 39th Street; it opened in 1883 and was demolished in 1967, after the opening of the new opera house at Lincoln Center in 1966. The building was impressive on the inside, but unimpressive on the outside. The yellow brick exterior caused the building to be dubbed the “yellow brick brewery.”
John Briggs wrote about the “yellow-brick brewery” for his New York (NY) Times column on October 22, 1958; Briggs later authored Requiem for a Yellow Brick Brewery: A History of the Metropolitan Opera (1969). However, it’s not known when the “brewery” nickname was first used.
Metropolitan Opera House (39th St)
The Metropolitan Opera House was an opera house located at 1411 Broadway in New York City. Opened in 1883 and demolished in 1967, it was the first home of the Metropolitan Opera Company.
Sometimes referred to as “the old Met”, the Metropolitan Opera House opened on October 22, 1883, with a performance of Faust. It was located at 1411 Broadway, occupying the whole block between West 39th Street and West 40th Street on the west side of the street in the Garment District of Midtown Manhattan. Nicknamed “The Yellow Brick Brewery” for its industrial looking exterior, the original Metropolitan Opera House was designed by J. Cleaveland Cady. On August 27, 1892 the nine-year-old theater was gutted by fire. The 1892-93 season was canceled while the opera house was rebuilt along its original lines.
The old Met closed on April 16, 1966 with a sentimental gala farewell performance featuring nearly all of the company’s current leading artists. The long time Met star soprano Zinka Milanov made her last Met appearance that night and among the many invited guests was soprano Anna Case who had made her debut at the house in 1909. Despite a campaign to preserve the theater, it failed to obtain landmark status and the old Met was razed in 1967. (...) Since 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center has been home to the Metropolitan Opera.
23 October 1958, New York (NY) Times, “The ‘Met’ Marks 75 Singing Years” by John Briggs, pg. 33:
The long, colorful history of the “yellow-brick brewery,” with its memories of Caruso, Sembrich, Nordica, Melba and the de Reszkes, will end when the company moves to its new quarters at Lincoln Center in about four years.
Google News Archive
21 July 1963, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “If You Think Conventions Are Fun—Dig A Met Opera Tour” by Hugh A. Mulligan, Leisure and Arts, pg. 8, col. 2
The incident is fairly typical of the sort of thing that happens when the world’s most distinguished opera company deserts its famed “yellow brick brewery on Broadway” to tour the provinces with the biggest collection of raw talent, naked egos and, pound for pound, personal avoirdupois ever assembled on wheels.
OCLC WorldCat record
Requiem for a yellow brick brewery; a history of the Metropolitan Opera.
Author: John Briggs
Publisher: Boston, Little, Brown 
Edition/Format: Book : English
OCLC WorldCat record
The American opera singer : the lives and adventures of America’s great singers in opera and concert, from 1825 to the present
Author: Peter G Davis
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 1997.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English : 1st ed
Summary: In America today, opera has never been more popular, and one reason for this is, no doubt, that American opera singers are fixtures on every leading opera stage throughout the world. In this lively and engrossing account, Peter G. Davis, music critic for New York magazine and a leading opera authority, tells the story of how these plucky, resilient and supremely talented American singers have transformed this venerable European-born art form and made it their own. Included are Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, Richard Tucker, Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Lawrence Tibbett, and a galaxy of others whose stories are as dramatic and compelling as the roles they sang on stage.
The yellow brick brewery
AIA Guide to New York City
By Norval White, Elliot Willensky, Fran Leadon
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Some said the 3,700-seat theater looked like a yellow brick brewery on the outside, but inside the City’s nouveaux riches could observe each other in red and gold-encrusted splendor.