Gelb latest: ‘It’s sad we are in a position where a work stoppage could take place’

Gelb latest: ‘It’s sad we are in a position where a work stoppage could take place’


norman lebrecht

July 24, 2014

No-one is threatening a work stoppage. Peter Gelb is threatening a lockout. This is a barefaced distortio.

Watch the interview, boring and unchallenged as it is. (Click on the blue word ‘Post’ if video does not pop out.))



peter gelb1
h/t: Schleppy


  • Nick says:

    Time and again Gelb is given a free reign in TV interviews to repeat glaring untruths and distortions without being challenged. It’s a sad fact that TV anchors have as little clue about the Met and its finances as the members of the Met Board. If Gelb always stays ‘on message’, interviewers will just not press to get meaningful responses and move on.

    Here are some of the glittering Gelb gems from this interview –

    “The problem is that opera in general as an art form and the classical performing arts are on a slow decline in terms of overall audience and we are facing a problem in terms of audience that all opera companies in this country and abroad face – a declining subscription base and a declining audience.”

    As has been amply stated in this blog many times, to continue repeating the canard about opera being a dinosaur on the decline WORLDWIDE is an outright LIE. Likewise, it is utter nonsense even to imply that the classical arts in general worldwide are on the decline. Only yesterday The Guardian had a piece about ten orchestras visiting the London Proms for the first time. Here is a comment from a cellist in the China Philharmonic –

    “This last decade, audiences in China have really got into classical music: there are 11 or 12 orchestras today in Beijing alone, and I’m seeing more and more young people in our audiences . . . We love how strongly our audiences react – we finish our last note and there’s an explosion! Last week, we played Mahler 5 with Semyon Bychkov and it was simply one of the greatest experiences ever for musicians and audience alike. They went crazy.”

    This to Gelb is evidence of decline. But when asked about his role in creating the present situation at The Met, he can only repeat the dinosaur analogy –

    “The problem is not because, I believe, I have mismanaged the Met but because of the endemic problem of opera in general – it is an old art form. The fact that it is old doesn’t mean it will live forever . . . everything I have been doing is trying to prolong its life.”

    But then Dr. Gelb tells how he is treating the patient –

    “The quality of productions at the Met have increased dramatically under my tenure and . . . we have done everything we can to make opera more of an exciting theatrical experience on stage . . . ”

    Oh really? 50% increase in costs? Declining audiences? Want to know something, Mr. Gelb? It hasn’t worked!

    • sdReader says:

      Disgraceful, but I think he believes what he is saying.

    • Dave T says:

      That classical music is doing well or growing in east Asia, especially in China, is well known. That this is relevant to what is happening in Manhattan is not.

      • Nick says:

        I entirely agree. My point was, however, that Gelb himself has frequently broadened his argument away from just declining/ageing audiences at the Met to not only opera generally in the USA but also the “classical performing companies abroad” (his exact words in the above interview). The directors of the Royal Opera and English National Opera have both stated publicly and unequivocally this is not true. Elsewhere in the world there are companies who will also state the opposite. Do you not agree therefore that for Gelb to embellish the specific nature of his problems at the Met by blaming them on a worldwide malaise is nothing but an outright lie?

        • Save the MET says:

          He’s not that smart. He thinks if he makes things controversial in the press people will come. The problem is, he gets them in the door once and when they discover he’s sold them a bill of goods, they don’t come back. (Tosca, The Ring, Ballo in Maschera, Contes d’Hoffmann, La Sonnambula and on and on) The statistics bear this out. When you get into the details, he’s a lousy marketer. He also has the personality of a squid.

    • Save the MET says:

      Referring to Gelb as a Dr. even in jest is an insult to medical doctors and doctors of philosophy everywhere who earned degrees. Peter struggled through high school, his father used connections to get him into Yale and he dropped out. Loser is an apt word for him.

      Peter has always been placed in jobs by people in higher places, he has never earned them through hard work.

  • Yes Addison says:

    I would say that that list has one great/near-great production (Alden’s Ballo), the others all ranging from debacle to “meh.’ Sonnambula struck me as much better than its rep, but not something I’d go to war over. But your underlying point is a good one — opinions vary on Met productions. In Gelb’s years there has also been superb work with Butterfly, Satyagraha, The Nose, Parsifal, Falstaff, Prince Igor, and not as striking or individual but still quite fine, Carmen, Maria Stuarda, Werther…along with other misfires (Faust, Don Giovanni, Comte Ory, Elisir). No one’s scorecard is going to read exactly the same, but I do feel more excited about new productions at the Met than I did in the Volpe years, the great new productions of which I could count on one hand, and have we forgotten some of THOSE disasters, like Zambello’s Lucia and Vick’s Trovatore?

    This is not an endorsement of Gelb’s handling of union issues or any other facet of his stewardship.

  • Save the MET says:

    The public does not agree with your opinion, each dropped after the primi, or when brought back had terrible box. Not even mentioning the Faust which was dead on arrival after being panned in London. Even a starry cast could not save that train wreck.

    • Christy says:

      While you may have some good points, they are obscured by the fact that you obviously despise Gelb.

      Everything he has done is not horrible, and everything the unions are saying is not wonderful. Life is far more complicated than your posts suggest, which takes away from whatever argument you are attempting to make.

  • Penny S says:

    The Orchestra union has just released its cost savings proposal, a detailed 84-slide presentation:

    The proposed savings are summarized on page 84.

    Total Cost Savings: $19.46M

    Pay cut (non-soloists, stagehands union and music staff): $3.06M – reduction in overtime pay rate

    All the rest: $16.4M – use of covers instead of star replacements; less overtime operas; shorter rehearsals; 5 new prods only, more efficiently managed; spend less on trucking/storage, investment/legal mgmt, and travel of non-employees

    Plus $11.6M more in box office revenues from selling more tickets by lowering ticket prices.

    So their give back is $3.06M. No mention of benefit cuts or any other work rule changes. 

    With a week to go before their contracts expire, it’s an interesting bargaining position to take.

  • jim donivan says:

    Yuja happens to be an exceptionL HOTTIE BUT SHE IS ALSO PROBABLY THE GREATEST KEYBOARD SPECIALIST ON THE PLANET and she does most of it from…
    m e m o r y ! The hands are the world stahdard for perforners.
    If you are simple and are degrading her because she is very attractive, be happy with your ignorace. Don’t bother musci lovers.