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Met Opera attendance is down again

May 15, 2017 by norman lebrecht

25 comments.


The house has reported it took just 67 percent of potential box-office revenue in the season just ending.

Peter Gelb is putting on the best possible spin, claiming 80,000 new ticket buyers, but wit the glass one-third empty there’s not much to brag about.

Why has New York deserted the Met? Look no further than your nearest multiplex screen.

 


Comments (25)

  1. Cubs Fan says:

    Yes, blame the movies. But also blame the ridiculously high-priced tickets at the Met. And blame the repertoire: you cannot continue to bore us with endless re-runs of Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Mozart and expect us to care anymore. There are so many wonderful collecting dust that would rejuvenate the stale offerings and entice many of us to return.

    1. Olassus says:

      “You cannot continue to bore us with endless re-runs of Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Mozart and expect us to care anymore.”

      Doesn’t that depend on how well the Met performs them?

    2. Scott says:

      Don’t make generalizations unless you have the facts to back them up. Wagner is not the problem. The Flying Dutchman and Tristan sold well this year. The Ring always sells out, even at inflated prices.

      For me, the problem is not the music, but self-indulgent directors.

      1. AMetFan says:

        The current production of the Ring at the Met does NOT sell out, with the exception of its debut season. During its last outing, the first revival, piles of comps (I’m talking thousands) were handed out, and even that, not successfully. It was a scandal.

        The Schenk Ring always (nearly) sold out in all five or so of its revivals. Those performances were close to pilgrimages. Just glorious.

        Know your facts. This has nothing to do with the quality of the performers, just the negative word-of-mouth about the LePage production.

    3. Dmmaiman says:

      I paid $25 per ticket to see an evening performance at the Met. Not very expensive and although the seats were high up, the acoustics are amazingly good.

  2. James Turzer says:

    I could see Rigoletto at least once a year, for example, but not when the setting is changed to Las Vegas.

    1. Petros Linardos says:

      You are not alone.

    2. Don Ciccio says:

      This certainly is an issue. Once, for novelty’s sake I may be OK with seeing a Rigoletto in Vegas, but season after season? And it’s not just Rigoletto. Many of the new stagings were in fact worse than the beloved ones that were replacing – e.g. Tales of Hoffmann, Don Carlo, not to mention the Ring. One could argue that you do need new stagings for some of these operas, but they should be good.

      Yes, there have been good new shows such as From the House of the Dead, The Nose, Elektra (not quite the reference staging it was hyped to be but still a good show) but these are not repertory staples.

      As for no names, I don’t care. I care about good singing, not names. Take The Flying Dutchman – with a full house on Friday, btw. No superstars, but marvelous singing from Amber Wagner (after the ballad) and Michael Volle with no weaknesses for the rest of the singers (one can tell me that Selig is no Salminen, but he was still pretty good). Plus the white hot conducting of Yannick Nezet-Seguin.

      1. Mark says:

        “White-hot conducting of Yannick” ? Mr. Nosey-Baboon (or whatever his French name is) conducts everything in a mindless and breathlessly fast manner. At the 50th Anniversary Gala, he conducted the Tannhauser chorus as if he was trying to catch a train to Philadelphia, and in other selections, he almost drowned the singers with his ridiculously loud “accompaniment”. What a great acquisition …

        1. Don Ciccio says:

          Did not hear the gala, but I stand by what I said about his Flying Dutchman conducting.

          But yes, he does tend on occasions to overwhelm the singers. Hopefully he will correct this habit. And it is true that energy at the price of subtlety is his characteristic. But I have faith in him. This is a conductor that has grown tremendously from the first time that I heard him some 10 years or even more ago.

        2. MarieTherese says:

          “Mr Nosey- Baboon (or whatever his French name is)”. Seriously? How rude can you be? There is NEVER any reason to make fun of someone’s name especially one from another country; take the time to learn, pronounce and write it properly or don’t say anything at all.
          The rudeness that has been showing it’s ugly face in America since November is shocking.

        3. John says:

          Now, why on earth would you comment like that Mark?? What use is it to anyone. It lowers the discussion into the mud! Plus, it’s not to the point of the discussion anyway.
          You just sound idiotic…

        4. Ungeheuer says:

          @Mark, do not allow the pressure to quiet you down be the winner. For we are of the same opinion re YNS. Courage to speak up!

      2. MWnyc says:

        From the House of the Dead was wonderful, but it did not sell well (at least by the standard of that enormous house); Janacek never does there. The Nose sold very well during its first run but not during the revival. (I would guess that it wasn’t a draw for tourists and everyone in New York who was interested saw it the first time around.)

  3. Marshall says:

    First, the HDs should have been handled the way sports on TV have been in the US-the city or region where the event takes place is blacked out. (I don’t follow it, but it had something to do with being a sell out before televised) The Met should have realized that from the beginning-that given the price, convenience, the age profile, that even in NYC, or Jersey, people have stopped going to the live event. Ostensibly the purpose was to see the live Met for those who live too far away etc. The HDs are great-they are a hit-but unless you still on occasion go to live opera, they are not that, and the worst offender is that all voices sound like the size of Nilsson-very unreal expectations for live voices.

    I wonder if the HD will finally turn into home, pay for view, the way sporting events and rock concerts are already? Probably same income stream, and then you won’t have to leave your house, and opera will become a studio form.

    As far as the price of the Met-I think it’s more the price of NYC-hotels, travel, food etc. if you don’t live in the region, rather than the tickets.

    Repertoire, if they had fewer of the old chestnuts, they’d even have lower attendance-that is a no brainer. The Regie theater, Eurotrash, fascist tyranny of directors etc. has been a dismal failure-if the idea was to bring younger people in-make opera a more living art form-what ever that means?-more popular.

    Two problems: grand opera was always based on super human voices, and vocal personalities which have dried up. There are maybe 2 true international stars today-a tenor who rarely shows up, and Netrebko. The great voices always brought people to the seats. Why there are barely any, is another complex societal question? The other factor is art, especially something like opera is dying-and not only is there barely a younger generation following, but for most, it’s just a quaint art form-another type of consumerism.

  4. AMetFan says:

    The downward spiral of in-house ticket sales at the Met over the past decade has been largely due to the success of the HD screenings. Of this there is no doubt. The net (read, net) revenue from HD barely covers its expenses, and this resulting net revenue probably does not offset the tremendous disintegration of in-house sales.

    Wonderful as the HD transmissions are, the Met never has come up with a workable formula of venues and repertoire that would not cannibalize in-house ticket sales at Lincoln Center. It has been all about claiming success around the globe and blaming lagging sales in the opera house on the once-loyal audience. Yes, movie theater audiences benefit greatly, but at what cost to the long-term survival of the institution?

  5. Ungeheuer says:

    Now that their dear, beloved, favorite, what else? Nee Née has left the house, they are in panic mode. ‘Tis what happens when you lay all your eggs in one nest. Biggest problem the Met faces (as do all houses the world over) is the disappearance of stars, of important voices. And the few important ones remaining are treated like Scheiß. It is the elephant in the room and the topic everyone in the business will not acknowledge let alone discuss openly. Looks like the chickens have come home to roost.

    1. Cyril Blair says:

      But of course when you lay all your eggs in one nest, the chickens will come home to roost, unless there is an elephant in the room, in which case you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.

      1. Nik says:

        People who live in glass houses should stop digging.

  6. AMetFan says:

    Would that stars were the only problem. When the Met was selling in the 90th percentile fifteen years ago, the roster often had homegrown names like Hong, Croft, and Swenson. They sold as nearly well as the international stars.

    The larger problems over the past decade–led by the HD transmissions–is marketing that has focused on fickle stars and questionable directors, rather than on the Met as a destination (yes, tourism counts; just ask Vienna) and a lack of balance between high art and spectacle (Aida, Tosca, Boheme, etc.).

    In a perfect world it would be wonderful to produce everything from new works to productions envisioned by the most cutting-edge directors. However, budgets and popular taste must also be taken into account. With all due respect to the successes of the past decade (witness the current Rosenkavalier), balance in programming is key and the current administration has treated its core audience with perhaps a bit of disdain.

  7. chris says:

    According to a chart published in the Los Angeles Times today, the Met showing of Rosenkavalier had the 10th highest grossing box office for the weekend grossing $1.7 million.

    1. AMetFan says:

      Now calculate the net profit to the company’s bottom line. It’s just the reality.

  8. OPERA ANONYMOUS says:

    The Met no longer focusses on finding new great voices, but who is the biggest name and star. They are also age obsessed with finding the youngest ‘new star’, so there is no more room left for great dramatic voices in America, or artists who have spent years and years honing their craft. They are afraid of trying out new singers and new voices thinking that the big names will draw people. The problem is, is that either big names cancel, or they aren’t what they were promised to be ever. The Met should find great voices around the world and nurture them on their stage, regardless of star stature in the media, age or any other obstruction. People want to hear new singers and discover new voices. That’s half the fun.

  9. Alexander says:

    looks like someone is taking jabs at Peter Gelb again …. Norman’s punch list is something like that in my imagination :
    1. Trump
    2. Putin
    3. Peter Gelb
    4. Jonas K.
    5. TBA soon 😉 and
    to be continued …..
    I do understand this is his own blog and he chooses the themes for the topics , so we hope to read ( another day) some news on European culture ( not only second and third-tiered American ones ) including lovely Russia, something on BBC Cardiff contest ( almost the only UK world -worthy event in classical music) and Kiri ( almost the only UK and NZ superstar who is still in business) and many other interesting things on the block … this was just my personal wishes to Norman 😉 putting “submit” now 😉

  10. David says:

    The Met did manage to get its overall attendance up to 75%, up 3% from last year. A glass half full view of this is they are brought in an average of 2850 people to the house for 220 performances. 627,000 people watched live opera at the Met last year. I don’t know of any other opera company in the world that can match that figure


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