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John Copley responds to Met dismissal

February 1, 2018 by norman lebrecht

45 comments.


The veteran director, sacked by Peter Gelb for an ‘inappropriate’ remark, has posted the following on social media:

Just to thank you all for your generous support and loving wishes. This is a very difficult time, helped by you all. Uncle John.

Beautiful. Dignified. Human.

JC with Renata Scotto


Comments (45)

  1. Samuel Ramey says:

    I have known John Copley for more than forty years and find this unbelievable. This a huge overreaction and Peter Gelb should be ashamed of himself!

    1. John Davies says:

      I have no doubt that you of all people is completely correct in your assessment of this appallingly judged decision by The Met. Unfortunately in these turbulent times we are being subjected in many areas to actions and decisions which many of us fail to fathom.

    2. Dame Sarah Connolly says:

      Well said Sam. I agree and he owes John a public apology.

      1. Ian Sommerville says:

        THIS IS THE NEW REALITY! …CULTURAL FACISM !…..and people don’t understand why Trump happened…really? …cause and effect. God help our young people to navigate their way through life with all this nonsense ….The West is heading towards a dystopian future…..

        JACK EWING SAYS:
        February 1, 2018 at 6:11 pm
        This is the level of insanity the left and feminists have reached in America. You can’t even ask someone if they’re married today without being labeled a pervert. No compliments, no jokes, no human warmth allowed. When I was a boy or teenager I knew how to defend myself from advances or abuse and it would only happen once, that person would never bother me again. No drama, no trauma. Matt Damon tried to reason with these demented people, tried to explain the difference between predators like Weinstein and someone who simply tells a joke, he too was destroyed. The safe-space snowflakes cried like babies and crucified Damon.

        1. Samuel Ramey says:

          Nothing leftist about Gelb! As far to the right as they come!

  2. Caravaggio says:

    Meanwhile, Levine receives only a “suspension” (pending some form of “investigation”) over much worse over much longer. Doesn’t compute. Are complicit Gelb and his board still in charge over there at the Metropolitan Opera? How come there has been no decisive and swift action on them, as far as I know?

    1. Jamie McG says:

      It absolutely computes. John Copley directs beautiful, traditional productions with emphasis on naturalism and realistic responses to the actual words in the libretto. He does not slap the audience in the face with his own psychological insecurities, nor does he insert extraneous actions and thoughts into a production just to titillate or shock the audience. He relies on the words the librettist has given him and the music the composer has set them to in order to determine what the emotional and physical action should be.

      That does not fit into Gelb’s impoverished vision of what audiences want.

      1. Yes Addison says:

        Thank you for chiming in from AMOP with your own idée fixe, but that makes no sense. If Gelb hates “beautiful traditional productions” so much that it guides every decision, why would he sign off on reviving Copley’s 28-year-old Semiramide in the first place, AND bring Copley back to oversee a revival a staff director might have handled? The production will still end up on the stage anyway. Wouldn’t the easier way of thwarting Copley’s vision have been either not doing Semiramide (hardly a repertory staple) or ordering a new production by one of those bad people with psychological problems?

        Also, with regard to the bad people, what are some recent examples of “titillation and shock” that Gelb has commissioned? The McVicar Tosca, Norma, and Donizetti queen operas? The Zimmerman Rusalka? The Sher Romeo et Juliette? The Woolcock Pearl Fishers? The Stroman Merry Widow? The Eyre Nozze di Figaro and Werther? The Carsen Falstaff? Some of those were better productions than others, but they’re all as inoffensive as Copley’s work.

      2. Sue says:

        I met him in early 70s when he directed (“Jenufa”?) at newly opened Sydney Opera House and I was part of a film crew. He was very professional.

    2. MWnyc says:

      “Meanwhile, Levine receives only a “suspension” (pending some form of “investigation”) over much worse over much longer.”

      Mind you, I am appalled that the Met fired John Copley for such a trivial incident, but the incident actually happened at the Met, in front of Met employees, this very week.

      The incidents for which Levine has been suspended – which are the only specific allegations of misconduct (as opposed to rumors) to have been made – happened many years ago and far away from the Met. As far as I know, none of Levine’s accusers have ever worked at the Met.

      So one could argue that even the suspension is more than the Met ought to do, since none of the accusations have anything to do with the house. If victims come forth with specific, credible accusations of illegal or unethical conduct by Levine at the Met, then the Met would be justified in firing him.

      1. I’m sorry. I really don’t want to discuss the case of Mr Levine here, but I’ve heard about some rather “odd” incidents at the Met too – like Mr Levine bringing some very young boys with him to rehearsal and about hush money being paid.

        1. Mark says:

          Oh, you’ve heard ? Then it must be true !! BTW, I heard that your mother and a male baboon from the Central Park Zoo had a passionate rendezvous nine months before you were born …

          1. Wrong. it was my father who met a bonobo lady in the Stuttgart zoo. That’s why I’m so socially acceptable.

          2. laurie says:

            Norman do you think this sort of comment from this sort of “person” is acceptable on your website?

  3. Laura Claycomb says:

    I worked with John Copley many times as a youngster at San Francisco Opera, and have always found him to have a fantastic sense of humor, be an excellent colleague and a fine director. Even in my overly-sensitive young artist days, the only thing I ever had a problem with him was for making us wait until the end of the opera for bows for tiny roles. 🙂

    I hear this is a misunderstanding by a non-native-speaking chorus member, who was mortified when he understood that the joke was not about HIM… If only Gelb had taken the time to talk to a few choristers and other people that were in the room. I understand wanting to have a harassment-free rehearsal room, but this is ridiculous! We’re all grownups and he deserved the benefit of the doubt. I guess the over-reaction is due to their inaction with the problems with Levine. Copley deserved better than this.

    1. Jane Susanna Ennis says:

      I also feel a bit sorry for the chorus member who caused all this furore because of his poor command of English…….

      I suppose his career is now over.

  4. Save the MET says:

    Gelb has a problem with Peter Sellars as well and has privately stated to a most authoritative music business friend of mine that he will not hire him again. So he’s now burning stage directors.

    1. Laura Claycomb says:

      Well, that makes sense… take out the most human of all directors out there…. 🙁 I dare say the Met is not the type of theatre for Peter, anyway. He’s all about the process and bringing out the best in his actors. He’s not someone to mount a production once and then have (albeit excellent, at the Met) assistant directors remount it without him a million times with all the singers interchangeable like anonymous puzzle pieces.

  5. Tony Britten says:

    It is neither 1984 nor the first of April, so its all the more scary that such an utterly ludicrous reaction has occurred. The world has indeed gone mad.

    1. Ian Sommerville says:

      THIS IS THE NEW REALITY! …CULTURAL FACISM…..and people don’t understand why Trump happened…really? …cause and effect. God help our young people to navigate their way through life with all this nonsense ….

      JACK EWING SAYS:
      February 1, 2018 at 6:11 pm
      This is the level of insanity the left and feminists have reached in America. You can’t even ask someone if they’re married today without being labeled a pervert. No compliments, no jokes, no human warmth allowed. When I was a boy or teenager I knew how to defend myself from advances or abuse and it would only happen once, that person would never bother me again. No drama, no trauma. Matt Damon tried to reason with these demented people, tried to explain the difference between predators like Weinstein and someone who simply tells a joke, he too was destroyed. The safe-space snowflakes cried like babies and crucified Damon.

  6. Charles G. Clark Maxwell says:

    Any message from Ildar Abdrazakov about whom the ‘I’d like to see him naked….’ remark was made …?

    It’s pathetic

    1. Tiredofitall says:

      I have, and you don’t. Trust me. If that was the exchange, I’ve personally heard much worse out of Petey’s mouth. John Copley is a gentleman who does not need the now questionable Imprimatur of the Met. As has been made evident over the past dozen years, Gelb doesn’t know the meaning of shame.

      1. MWnyc says:

        Olga, is that you?

        1. Tiredofitall says:

          🙂 I should only have that superb instrument of Miss Borodina!

    2. Alex Davies says:

      It actually has nothing to do with him. The ghost is Nino’s ghost. No mention on the Met website as to who is cast in that role. Norman just made a slip of the keyboard. I have to admit that I saw Semiramide in London only a couple of months ago and I’ve already forgotten much of the plot!

    3. Dame Sarah Connolly says:

      I know that Ildar was devastated and went to see Peter to defend John. Ildar is shirtless in this scene, so the naked remark was a reference to him being semi-naked.

  7. Brian Dailey says:

    Just another example of “ageism” which is taking place at all levels and in all departments at the MET.

    1. Sue says:

      Please god: not a other ‘ism’.

  8. Robert Holmén says:

    When someone gets fired for “one thing” it’s usually a pretense for some other thing that is either unknown or wouldn’t be normally be grounds for firing someone.

  9. Jean Andrews says:

    As someone who lost her career for reporting ACTUAL sexual harassment in the workplace, this is such an overreaction on Gelb’s part that I am stunned and enraged and disappointed.

  10. Edward Friel says:

    Why is Gelb still there?

    1. Roger says:

      The board president likes him. And she is VERY VERY rich.

  11. Vienna calling says:

    I’d love to see Ildar Abdrazakov naked. Who wouldn’t? I don’t understand the problem.

    1. Jane Susanna Ennis says:

      Er……….yes, and there are some other male singers I’d like to see naked, but perhaps right now it’s a bit insensitive to say so? Even so, I think sacking Copley was an over-reaction…………I understand that managements are on edge because of the recent scandals about sexual harassment , but maybe Copley wasn’t fully aware of this.

    2. Alex Davies says:

      Then you’d be out of luck. It’s actually a different singer (not named on the Met website) to whom Mr Copley was referring. Norman slipped up when he said that it was Assur who appears as a ghost. It’s actually Nino. Not that I remembered that myself, despite having seen the opera in London only a couple of months ago. I must admit that I rarely can follow the plots of operas based on ancient history or legend.

      1. Sarah Connolly says:

        You’re right Alex Davies.

  12. Neil Eddinger says:

    There are many excellent reasons why John Copley is among everyone’s all-time favorite directors. He’s brilliant, supportive and fun to work with. This is just another absurd over-reaction calculated to compensate for years of giving a pass to actual offenders. Enough of the Terror! Grow up, Gelb!

  13. Heidi Skok says:

    I am just disgusted. What else can I say?

  14. Olga says:

    Beloved MetOpera becomes a theater of absurd, it is very sad.

  15. Alexander Platt says:

    Peter Gelb is an utterly incompetent man, both morally and professionally, who should have been fired long ago at the Metropolitan. Everybody seems to know this, except his board of directors.

    1. Laura says:

      Only way to get rid of her would be for a majority of the other Board members to meet secretly to vote her out, but it appears that those opposed to her left already. That means nothing will happen until some horrible crisis, like the banks will no longer lend the Met money, so it will be unable to make it’s payroll. Then the Met’s doors will close, Gelb will be out of a job and the Met’s sets & costumes will be sold off, just like the NYCity Opera. All because some rich bitch wanted a vanity job as Board Chairman.

  16. Ashley M says:

    I met John Copley once and he was a sweetheart. This is a disgusting move on the Metropolitan Opera’s behalf.

    For anyone who still might be interest, the petition on behalf of James Levine is still online – now up to 349 signatures: https://www.change.org/p/metropolitan-opera-reinstate-james-levine-at-the-metropolitan-opera

    Ashley

  17. Michael Devlin says:

    Big mistake, Gelb…Big, big mistake.

  18. From the Sidelines says:

    I’m not “in the business” but I am a friend of John Copley. Despite his high position, numerous achievements, incisive wit and impressive intelligence, he has the gift of being able to communicate well with anyone—from Queen Elizabeth to the assistant props manager. People love him for his silly (sometimes campy) sense of humor and hang on every word of his stories (always well-told). Any man who is traumatized by the admiring comment of a loving, harmless mid-octogenarian needs to grow a pair. Or perhaps he should relish the compliment. I would.

  19. THEO VLAHOPOULOS says:

    I respect and admire John immensely . I have worked with him and I will treasure those times for ever.
    There are lots of ” nobodys ” out there who want to elevate their miserable lives by hurting others.
    I will not set a foot in the MET until Gelb goes home and never comes back.


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