Tonight’s opera is sold out

Tonight’s opera is sold out


norman lebrecht

July 17, 2014





Note to P. Gelb: That’s sold out, not locked out.

(It’s Onegin in St Pete, if the Russian’s a problem)


  • Michael says:

    Please let us know what your relentless – and increasingly tedious – campaign against Peter Gelb is designed to achieve or please stop taking every trivial opportunity to attack him. Enough?

    • Jonas says:


    • Petros Linardos says:

      I completely agree with Michael’s questions.

      • Emil Archambault says:

        Indeed: what’s with your vendetta against Peter Gelb?

        On the one hand, you note that the economic model of American orchestras and operas is failing; on the other, you accuse Gelb of being incompetent for saying precisely that the economic model of the MET is not working.

        As you very well know, one picture of young people at a free opera concert does not mean you can fill the MET’s 3800 seat opera house two hundred times in a season with young people.
        One sold out opera (in Russia!) does not mean that the MET is failing because it cannot sell out a whole season.

        So please come clean, explain why you hate Peter Gelb so much, and stop taking cheap, base digs at the MET.

        • Nick says:

          You clearly have not been reading the various comments about the Met in general and Peter Gelb’s lack of competent leadership in particular. Had you done so, these questions would be superfluous. I have not re-read the vast number of actual posts to come up with a specific number, but my guesstimate is that 95% of these are solidly against Peter Gelb’s shenanigans as Artistic Director and General Manager at the Met. He has proved his incompetence as GM and his qualifications to be AD are far below those essential to such an organisation. More importantly, it is ludicrous to think that any one man, even one with a much greater experience of international opera, management of huge arts organisations and respect amongst his peers could do so.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            When there are so many legitimate questions to Peter Gelb’s effectiveness, why does Slipped Disc need this barrage of snide remarks and false analogies? The latter undermine, in my mind at least, Slipped Disc’s image and credibility. And that is a pity for such an important blog.

  • Brian says:

    Of course, Norman, it is important to note ticket prices as well. I just checked the Mariinsky site for Saturday evening’s “Figaro.” Range from $9-72, and this in a house that seats 1625. I’m no fan of Gelb either and fear that the MET is headed for disaster as their 3800-seat house is unsustainable, but still you’re comparing apples and oranges.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    When Onegin can’t sell out a the Maryinsky, we truly are in trouble.

    As for Norman’s “campaign” against Mr Gleb, maybe he’s just distressed at what’s happening to one world’s greatest opera houses.

    I wonder what Joseph Volpe would have to say….

  • sdReader says:

    This post has caused Norman to be lampooned on!

  • Nick says:

    In response to Petros Linardos last comment (19 July), I’d suggest that it is Gelb himself who opened the Pandora’s box which has resulted in quite a few snide comments. He chose to go international by giving an interview to Deutsche Welle at the end of April in which he had stated very clearly that opera “is in itself a kind of a dinosaur of an art form”, adding a bit about “a cultural and social rejection of opera as an art form.”

    Whilst the interview was generally about the Met, he certainly gives the impression that the above comments apply worldwide. So threads in this blog highlighting how other Houses are filling their seats are perfectly justified, in my book. (And comparisons about specific ticket prices and the specific size of any House are irrelevant given that Gelb was talking in very broad generalities.)

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Nick, I think I understand your argument but respectfully disagree.

    I still think that Gelb’s comments can be easily challenged without having to resort to false analogies. Ditto for his overall work at the MET.

    And just in case I am misunderstood: from my naive, outsider’s perspective, I dearly miss Joseph Volpe.

    I am very curious to know how well opera is doing globally, but wouldn’t rely on the anecdotal evidence presented in this blog these days. That’s because Norman is cherry picking and seems so agenda driven. This is so unlike his thoughtful editorials or his balanced recent commentary on Lorin Maazel.

    • Nick says:

      I agree there has been far more on Peter Gelb and the Met in this blog in recent weeks than other Houses and companies. To a certain extent, that could be seen to be cherry-picking. With equal respect to your comments, though, I do believe that you will find a similar balance/imbalance in many publications for the very simple reason that both Gelb and the Met are ‘hot’ news internationally at present. And the reason for that is Gelb elected to make it so. It did not just happen!

      I do not live in the US and so have little clue what happened at the last set of Union negotiations at the Met 3 years ago. In terms of international PR, it seemed to be a non-event. This year, though, every newspaper I look at online – from the Australian to The Guardian to The South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) – plus most blog sites and social media have lengthy articles on Gelb’s dramatic warnings of the abyss. And there are plenty of comments from highly respected opera leaders and the general public that disagree completely with these views.

      Had the comments come from Joe Volpe or another with his huge depth of experience in running a large opera company, they would have concentrated minds on the specific problem and how to solve it, I suggest. The fact that they came from a man whose career up to his appointment had virtually no experience in opera management, whose actions have on too many occasions shown that inexperience, whose administrative acumen has been constantly called into question and whose self-appointment as Artistic Director in addition to his contracted title of General Manager has led to a fair degree of ridicule – all these and more have focussed this debate fairly and squarely on Gelb. Some of the recent ‘sniping’ may be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But I submit it is perfectly valid in the present context.

  • Glerb says:

    [For non-Cyrillic readers, it’s the Mikhailovsky Theatre, not the Mariinsky]