Manuela Hoelterhoff is an unhappy opera bunny. Each time she goes to the Met in the line of duty, her heart sinks deeper into her Jimmy Choos at the lack of consumer comforts and general progress at her regular place of worship.
What’s to be done? Manuela, who has probably seen more Met operas than any New York critic, has offered ten improvement ideas on the Bloomberg site. Nine of them are commonsense. The tenth is totally radical. Manuela is the first to break a taboo about the sacrosanct music director. It deserves to be widely discussed.
Read the full article here. The ten tips follow:
1. Open the Met an hour before, not half an hour, so people
2. Morph the useless and unloved gallery into a bar.
3. Turn the souvenir shop into a media center showcasing
material from the company’s huge archives and information on new
productions. Move the press room from its dim hole by the
bathrooms and provide seating for visitors to tweet. There’s
hardly any old-style press left anyway.
4. Get rid of the overpriced Grand Tier restaurant, which
blights a huge swathe of territory underneath one of the two
murals by Chagall. Have designer David Rockwell and Chef Marcus
Samuelsson create a casual dining space with bar tables and
sofas that flows across to the other Chagall.
5. Drop that pompous “no seating once the performance
starts” ukase. This is a place of entertainment. Every act has
a moment that is less sacred than others.
6. Permit drinks inside like the Brooklyn Academy of Music
and most New York theaters. For a long show in cramped seats, a
sippy cup can be your friend.
7. Expand and encourage the use of a free coat check. The
auditorium often looks like a refugee center.
8. In nice weather, fill that loggia with bars on both ends
and students from Juilliard next door playing operatic
transcriptions that drift enticingly to pedestrians below.
9. Start performing on Sundays. Is there another opera
company or theater that shuts down on Sunday to please unions?
10. Hire a charismatic music director to articulate a
vision for the future and excite a new generation. James Levine,
here since 1971, has never become a public personality
identified with New York. What is wrong with “emeritus”? The
Met needs a visible, socially engaged leader to supplement
general manager Peter Gelb. We need someone like Gustavo Dudamel
in Los Angeles or Riccardo Muti in Chicago. It’s time for a
(Manuela Hoelterhoff is an executive editor at Bloomberg
News. All opinions are her own.)