Met loses senior artistic manager

Met loses senior artistic manager


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2013

Sarah Billinghurst is leaving at the end of the season. There has been  no announcement, but the word is out on the street.

The New Zealander has been at the Metropolitan Opera for 20 years as artistic general manager, effectively buffering between the music director, James Levine, and the general manager, Peter Gelb.

She could have been a contender at Covent Garden in the late 1990s, but the board went for Michael Kaiser instead.



  • Eric says:

    Was she let go or is she retiring? Musical America’s article states she is retiring, which is not the same as her being let go or “shed”.

  • Jamie says:

    Nothing to add but I’d like to subscribe to comments.

  • Gwen Jones says:

    I knew her during her years at San Francisco Opera working with Kurt Herbert Adler. She is an absolute class act! It seems appropriate that she might want to retire. I hope that is the truth.

  • Sarah mentioned this to me at Santa Fe a couple of months ago. She said she’s been working hard for decades and it was time for a break

  • Hasbeen says:

    Sarah’s retirement has been know for a long time. To use the word ‘shed’ is pejorative and wrong. Sara has been a class act throughout her career in SF and NY. All artists have benefited from her support !!

    • Not pejorative: UK headline usage.

      • Glerb says:

        Is it really? Something is shed if it’s no longer needed, like the skin of a snake, or jobs at a failing company. Could you give an example from a UK headline where “sheds” is used where “loses” might be more appropriate? I’d be happy to stand corrected. Thanks.

    • sdReader says:

      I don’t read “sheds” pejoratively but I get the idea she didn’t jump, but was pushed, as in, “you’ve been great, and now it’s time to go.”

  • Stirling says:

    This woman is a marvel. I, too, knew her in the San Francisco days. She worked her way from being a volunteer stuffing envelopes for the SF Opera Guild to become the artistic director at San Francisco Opera. She’s smarter than almost anyone I have ever met and has the energy of at least 10 people. I’ve seen her work a full 12-hour day, attend an evening opera performance and then go home to host a classy cocktail party for 25 or 30 people. Astonishing. I was so happy that things went so well for her. The Met is very lucky to have had her this long.

    • Susan G says:

      I couldn’t agree more. She is a treasure, and a wealth of knowledge, experience, ENERGY (all the travel all the time!) to put it all together, PLUS manage a high-powered and complex family with a heart that always has room for one (or twelve) more. She will be sorely missed at the Met.

    • T. Moore says:

      I second what “Stirling” wrote! I knew Sally when she worked at the SF Opera. One Christmas Eve, I went up to the Admin floor during a Nutcracker intermission, and encountered Sally, dressed in an evening gown, hunched over the fax machine. I asked her why she was working on Christmas Eve, and she replied that her dinner guests weren’t arriving for a couple of hours, so she thought she could get some work done in the meantime!

    • Zenaida says:

      I’ve known Sarah also from SF Opera days, worked alongside her and can attest to her full commitment to her work. Her energy level and cheerfulness have always impressed me greatly. Am glad now that she finally gets to retire of her own free will (nothing “shady/shody” about that!

  • Jamie says:

    Who will take her place?

    I pray that it’s not someone who is sympathetic to Regietheater…

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Can’t help wondering whether her retirement has anything to do with the MET’s gradual conversion to Regietheather

  • Hasbeen says:

    Not sure what you mean by ‘sheds’ being UK headline usage, but if it is unjust shouldn’t you be campaigning against it’s usage rather than repeating it.

  • D.Duane Magee says:

    Sheds does sound a bit derogatory. How about investigating this further and find out if it is retirement time for Ms. Billinghurst.

  • Good thing, by the time she’s finished — the damn thing’s not hooked up again!

  • Sarah Billinghurst says:

    Sarah Billinghurst says. After 42 yearsin opera I am retiring to spend time with my husband, children and grandchildren. I will still be very much involved in the opera world but also will go to the theater, museums and work in the field of International Women’s Health and other causes which interest me..Thank you everyone for your very much appreciated comments. I have had a long and satisfying career and look forward to the next chapter – in which I will NOT write my memoirs!

  • Laurie Feldman says:

    Sarah, you are the essence of trust, support, ethics, and loving mentoring to so many of us. I know the next chapter is going to be brilliant, and I hope it is full of joy for you….

  • NON:op says:

    Bravissima! …and we would wish that you write your memoirs, or some other book about opera!