The Metropolitan Opera’s showdown with its unions took a fresh terms yesterday when newly-released tax filings showed that the manager, Peter Gelb, earned 1.8 million in 2012 and has just taken a voluntary 10 percent pay cut. He wants the unions to trim 16 percent.
These discrepancies aroused a spate of shock-horror stories in New York’s newspapers, where Gelb has lost the war before a shot was fired. He has turned instead for soft treatment to the British media, but his comments are not encouraging.
When Gelb got the big job back in 2006, he promised to propel the Met into the 21st century by revitalising its repertoire, getting in movie directors, putting opera on the big screen and generally making it a place fit for entertainment and inspiration.
In the latest interviews, he makes it sound like a mausoleum.
Gelb’s pessimism about the survival of opera is the dominant tone emerging from the Met. There is no light at the end of his tunnel. It may be that Gelb has done all he can. Regardless of the outcome of the union talks, what the Met needs is a boss with vision, a positive outlook on the future. It may be that Gelb has to go.