Worst news: Union says Met lockout is now ‘virtually certain’

There’s a fortnight to go to deadline day, but the stage unions see no realistic possibility of agreement with Peter Gelb. Here’s what they reported overnight.

GelbTV

To: AGMA-represented principal artists
From: Alan Gordon
Re: Update on Met Negotiations

Sadly, I have to report to you that recent developments at the Met make it a virtual certainty that Peter Gelb will lock out all of the Met’s performers, instrumentalists, stagehands and other performers on or after August 1st. In turn, the eventual result will likely be the cancellation of all Met performances throughout 2014, and possibly for the entire season, and perhaps beyond.

The first such development is the appearance that Gelb is conducting the upcoming negotiations with ever-increasing reliance upon the strategy and tactics of his anti-union, $1000 an hour lawyer Harold Robbins. Robbins, a partner in the giant Proskauer, Rose, Goetz and Mendelsohn pro-management law firm is known for advising employers who lock out workers to bully them into submission.

The second development is the direct involvement of the Met’s Board of Directors into the negotiating process. They recently bought a full page ad in the NY Times, supporting Gelb generally, and specifically endorsing some of his proposals that would completely restructure, negatively, the way in which performers would get paid. With the Board’s unlimited money in support of Gelb’s lockout plan, there seems to be little likelihood that Gelb has any reason to take a more reasonable bargaining position. It’s bizarre that the Met’s patrons, who theoretically love opera and who fund much of it, are also so determined to hurt the people who are the opera.

The third development is the observable pattern of pre-negotiation bad faith conduct in which Gelb is engaging, all in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. That conduct combines 1) an obvious intention to do what’s known as illegal surface bargaining: Going through the motions of bargaining without ever intending to reach an agreement and 2) Committing multiple unfair labor practices, including refusing to agree upon a neutral site for negotiations, denying the press (and the public) access to negotiations so he can hide what he’s doing from public scrutiny, refusing to agree upon any version of the last collective bargaining agreement, refusing to provide legally required information about the Met’s finances and illegally dealing directly with employees.

Although Gelb has told your agents that it isn’t true, if he succeeds in gaining an overall reduction of 17-25% in the compensation of the Met’s regular employees through a lockout, it is an obvious certainty that he will unilaterally impose a 17-25% reductions in your fees, with your agents suffering a corresponding loss, reductions you will be forced to accept if you want to sing at the Met.

Gelb, having found himself unable to actually handle labor negotiations and unable to take the relentless criticism of his failed artistic and business plans in the press and from his employees, has taken refuge behind lawyers who have no stake in the outcome of the negotiations. Unlike Joseph Volpe, who cared for both the Met and its performers, Gelb cares only about perpetuating his legacy of waste and excess, justifying his out-of-control expenditures and making sure that the Met’s Board does nothing to impair his massive salary and $3 million dollar supplemental pension.

With these developments, a Gelb-imposed lockout is a virtual certainty.

The harm that this will cause to the lives of thousands of people, families and children is exacerbated by the fact that Gelb simply doesn’t seem to understand the real effect of a lockout on the Met. Being a complete rookie at labor relations, and guided by Robbins, Gelb believes that a short lockout will bring the employees to their knees. Robbins knows better, but apparently won’t tell Gelb, that once locked out even for a day, the unified performers will be forced to keep the Met dark for the rest of 2014, if not beyond.

In response to Gelb’s violations of federal labor law, AGMA today filed multi-count unfair labor practices charges against the Met with the National Labor Relations Board. If the NLRB ultimately determines that the lockout was undertaken in furtherance of unfair labor practices, employees (you) would be entitled to me ‘made whole’ (i.e., paid back for money lost).

Across-the-table negotiations are scheduled to begin the last week in July.

No one…the singers, instrumentalists, administrative staff, other performers or the unions that represent them…doubts that the has grossly overdrawn from its endowment, and is suffering from the uncontrolled costs of Peter Gelb’s failed plans. It’s clear to all that his spending needs to be controlled, or he needs to be replaced.

If the Met’s Board of Directors doesn’t either replace him, or exert real control over his exorbitant spending, trying to ‘save the Met’ is going to be a fool’s errand. Gelb’s legacy has been one marked by waste, excess and extravagance, a failed artistic vision and a box office in freefall, which no one who loves the Met wants to perpetuate.

Against that background, even if Gelb achieved the 17-25% cuts he seeks from the performers, two years into the future the Met would again be back where it is now, asking for more cuts.

It would be easy, but wrong, to blame Gelb alone. The real villains are the members of the Met’s Board of Directors who, despite their supposed business and financial acumen, have failed (or refused) to accept the true state of facts: The Met is being seriously mismanaged and it was their job to prevent that mismanagement. Now, it’s their job to fix it. It’s their fiduciary duty to control Gelb, to oversee the Met’s operations, to protect its artistic integrity and to guard its future. And to protect the well-being of the performers who create its ‘product’.

The fundamental tenets of Gelb’s strategy, effectively unsupervised still by the Board, have been for the Met to increase attendance by drawing a new and younger audience through new productions and HD theatercasts. The available data, however, indicates that the opposite has occurred. Attendance has declined and the trend continues. In fact, it appears that many of the new productions have drawn even smaller audiences than those they replaced. The strongest element of attendance is the exceptional seat sales of the repeatedly popular “old warhorses”. Beyond that, however, are the resultant (and un-recouped through ticket sales) costs for so many new productions: Massive overtime expenses caused by the additional rehearsals that are necessitated by inept scheduling, ever escalating construction costs for new sets and Gelb’s complete failure (and stated unwillingness) to control unnecessary directorial-driven expenditures and squander.

Likewise, the HD movie theater strategy has similarly failed and has not significantly increased the bottom line. Worse, it has cannibalized of NY opera goers out of the opera house into movie theaters.

There seems little doubt that the major reason underpinning the Met’s current and growing predicament are management failures in strategy, planning and execution. Although Mr. Gelb’s predecessor was criticized for his artistic judgments, that criticism was demonstrably not shared by ticket buyers and, it should be remembered, that he left the Met in relatively good financial position, with much higher attendance and with 20 years of labor-management peace. Unfortunately, the Met under Gelb can’t survive as we know it unless significant management changes take place.

The crucial role of the Board of Directors, in exercising control over run away management has been too long delayed. None could deny the abysmal role played by the Board of the New York City Opera in its demise and yet there is little indication that the Met’s Board is taking a different, strong role. Or an effective role. Or any role. Left alone by the Board, Gelb has, instead, managed by surrounding himself with sycophants who, to protect their own jobs, will not tell the Emperor that he ‘has no clothes’.

The Met is at the point where its future viability hangs in the balance. If the Board directs Gelb to abandon his failed business strategy, limit the number of new productions, black out HD broadcasts in New York, eliminate waste and undertake a closely supervised management, the Met can regain its strength. Or the Board could (and often it’s now heard as ‘should’) empower a new manager to do it. If Gelb’s plans continue as is, however, failure and a lockout are the obvious, unavoidable, and unacceptable outcomes.

We continue to do everything possible to force Gelb into honest, legal, bargaining. Hard bargaining is no problem for us. Gelb’s surface bargaining and his lockout are going to hurt a lot of people and their families.

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  • Robert Garbolinski says:

    Peter Gelb has brought the MET to its knees and possibly complete shutdown. he should be fired as he cannot do his job without costing the MET millions which would be better spent putting on great productions for which the MET is famed. Mr Volpe cared passionately about the MET and although he is now retired would have ben the perfect man to sort all this out. It was obvious that the MET was going to go downhill as soon as Gelb ditched the fabulous productions in favour of crap ones which we had to endure in London and will never be seen again. I wrote to them and told them, but the arrogance of no reply and also the reviews in the American press should have given them a warning signal. The board member should know better why reward someone/keep someone who has done this to the MET! Idiotic!

    • sdReader says:

      Gelb has a 10-year salaried contract through 2022 @ $1.8 million per year, or thereabouts.

      • NYMike says:

        It may be cheaper in the long run to pay him off at some negotiated settlement than to keep him around while he destroys the institution.

        • Ricky says:

          I do not know the contract law in USA therfore forgive my ignorance: Is managing a company to the detriment or the verge of failure not already in breach of the original contract? Why does he need to be paid off?

  • Nick says:

    It’s hard to comment when details of the negotiations are understandably kept private. Inevitably both sides are still pressing their extreme positions which we should expect to be whittled down during these negotiations. So I will not be surprised if compromise is reached before August 1st.

    Yet my sympathies in this instance are largely with the Unions. I do not like Gelb’s tactics. He could have made changes to contracts in the negotiations 3 years ago. I have never thought he was right for the job and he has shown his inexperience in many ways. The latest memo from Alan Gordon (above) rightly criticises him, as it does the Board. Looking on from afar, I never fail to be staggered that Boards of non-profit arts organisations in the US are usually either rudderless, or are led by one strong individual who persuades colleagues that what he/she wants, he/she will get. The membership of many Boards have little clue as to how their organisations operate and are appointed more for the funds they will donate and raise, and/or impress those who provide donations. They appoint CEOs who in some cases do not have the required experience and should never be let near their organisations, and then fail in their oversight duties to their artists, their staff, their patrons who purchase tickets and ultimately their communities.

    • John Nemaric, Ph.D. says:

      Here, that is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the situation was in the past very similar to that of the MET in reference to the PSO Board of Directors (in my humble opinion). I absolutely agree with you about your assessment of boards that are active in the arts and more specifically in music.

      If you have the money you can buy your way into a board of directors. That elevates that person (here in Pitt at least) to a ROYAL state social class position. It’s not knowledge what takes one there but money. Money talks very loud and at times it talks louder than a full orchestra’s Rossini ripieno/tutti.

      Norman, keep at it. We need more. We need to know more to change things for the better and the common good.

  • Save the MET says:

    The amateurish attempts by Gelb and the Metropolitan Opera Board to push the unions have long lost the argument. The Union which has also misbehaved, but not to the level of Gelb and the Board has the better of the two agruments. Keep in mind, this is show business and the salaries within show business run much higher than what these unions are asking for their people. The real pressure is on the Metropolitan Opera to find a leader with experience to run the house. Gelb at this point is done, he hasn’t learned much while he has been there and the one trick up his sleeve, the HD is done and does not need him. No one is irreplaceable and Peter Gelb, was given more responsibility than his skill set could handle. Why would you give a man the title of “Artistic Director” who has no stage, or musical experience? Pretty dumb move by the Metropolitan Opera Board, who is overpopulated with ladies who lunch and not people with business acumen and or experience. Then again, neither is their Genmeral Manager.

    Here are the managing directors slate of officers, strong on ladies who lunch, but are devoid of business experience, weak on titans of industry:

    Ann Ziff (Inherited her husband’s publishing fortune, no business experience)
    – Chairman
    Kevin W. Kennedy (retired Goldman Sachs, ran their Latin American business)
    – President and Chief Executive Officer
    Mercedes T. Bass (Spent her husband’s money for years, received her fortune through divorce)
    – Vice Chairman
    Judith-Ann Corrente (Spends her husband’s money, sits on boards of non-profits, well educated, but in areas which give her no business acumen, or experience.)
    – Secretary
    Betsy Cohen (Banker, finally someone with real world experience)
    – Treasurer
    William C. Morris (Inheritor, serves as Chairman of a few boards.)
    – Chairman of the Executive Committee
    Frayda B. Lindemann (Assistant Prof at Hunter, now spends her husband’s money)
    – Vice President
    Christine F. Hunter (Heiress to the Fisher fortune, controls the Gramma-Fisher Foundation, never worked a real day in her life, former Metropolitan Opera Board Chairperson)
    – Honorary Chairman
    James W. Kinnear (retired, ran Texaco, but not very well as it was sold in a hostile takeover)
    – Honorary Chairman
    Paul M. Montrone (First person with a highly successful business career with money he made on his own, but has far less to do with the MO than he used to.)
    – President Emeritus
    Mrs. Ezra K. Zilkha (Lady who lunches and spends her husband’s money)
    – Vice Chairman Emerita

    If you want to spend some time looking through the other board members, here are the rest of their names. Some business people, but even more ladies who lunch and write checks. Kind of reminds me of Max Bialistock’s list of little old ladies. I have spoken with several board members who tell me Mr. Gelb resides during the day at the Metropolitan Opera at the pleasure of Ann Ziff and they are afraid they will lose her check book if they push to hard to get rid of Mr. Gelb.

    Managing Directors:
    Mercedes T. Bass
    Frank A. Bennack, Jr.
    Susan S. Braddock
    Betsy Cohen
    Leonard S. Coleman, Jr.
    Judith-Ann Corrente
    Rena De Sisto
    Jerry del Missier
    Mrs. Paul Desmarais Sr
    Misook Doolittle
    Stephanie T. Foster
    Marina Kellen French
    Joan Granlund
    Eugene P. Grisanti
    Ekkehart Hassels-Weiler
    Rolf Heitmeyer
    Marlene Hess
    Agnes Hsu-Tang, PhD
    Christine F. Hunter
    Frederick Iseman
    John J. Noffo Kahn
    Kevin W. Kennedy
    James W. Kinnear
    Bruce Kovner
    Camille D. LaBarre
    Mrs. Walter J. Laughery, Jr.
    Harry T. Lee
    Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer
    Frayda B. Lindemann
    Dafna Meitar-Nechmad
    Mrs. Corbin R. Miller
    William R. Miller
    William C. Morris
    Elena A. Prokupets
    Laura J. Sloate
    Howard Solomon
    Hon. David A. Straz, Jr.
    Ambassador Nicholas F. Taubman
    Mrs. Wilmer J. Thomas, Jr.
    Robert I. Toll
    Robert L. Turner
    Ann Ziff

    • Penny S says:

      If Peter Gelb agreed to cut production and other non-labor costs as the unions are demanding, how much money would that save including in reduced overtime? Would that be enough to bring down contributed revenue requirements to a “sustainable” level or would labor still need to accept deep cuts? By how much would earned revenue need to improve to balance the budget? I haven’t seen any estimates in the back and forth online. Just the 16-17% cut from labor everyone keeps quoting.

      Really curious.

      • Save the MET says:

        It would seem that the MET’s fund raising operation will have to up their game, if they are to continue. Going to “little old lady land” is the name of the game. They also need a new marketing plan. Firing the current agency and hiring another should also be part of their strategy.

        • Penny S says:

          “It would seem that the MET’s fund raising operation will have to up their game, if they are to continue.”

          Therein lies the rub. The Board claims that it can’t step up even more than it has already, raising unprecedented levels of money over the past 7 years (around $160M in 2013). They say that they want to secure $600M in the next 5 years to build up the endowment so they can start earning interest (and pay off a $100M debt) and not be overly dependent on unpredictable yearly fundraising. They can’t do that if they need to balance the operations budget as well: short term needs vs. long term viability. Hence the demand for restructuring.

          On the revenue side, even if they sell out their entire season at existing (too high) price points – highly unlikely in the current economic climate no matter how brilliant the GM or marketing team – they would still need substantial cost cuts across the board (labor and non-labor) to lower fundraising targets to reasonable/realistic levels. 

          What the Board is asking for makes perfect sense on a macro level, nevermind the personalities involved. 

          Seems to me the people at the Met are so keen on fighting battles they’re prepared to lose the war.

      • NYMike says:

        “Just the 16-17% cut from labor everyone keeps quoting.” Everyone isn’t everyone – both AGMA and 802 put real cuts closer to 30-35% factoring in reduced overtime and higher benefit costs to their members.

    • John Nemaric, Ph.D. says:

      Franz Welsser Most (not sure I have the correct spelling of his name) was overheard just a few years ago in Vienna or Salzburg to refer to such lunch ladies as the “Blue Hair” crowd of Cleveland. They were in total control in Cleveland (whatever).

  • Nick says:

    I can understand why a non-profit Board of Directors would have one Managing Director. I would then assume that individual would be the effective CEO, but Mr. Gelb is not on the list. He is merely General Manager (and self-appointed Artistic Director, it would seem). Why on earth does the Met Board have 42 MDs? What do they manage? (We know what they mismanage!)

  • Stravinsky says:

    The MET’s deficit it’s apparently 2.8mil. That’s just a little discreet fart to just one of these ladies.

  • Save the MET says:

    Excellent point. Most of these MG’s are their for doantions and have little say. Ann Ziff who has written the largest check of late is unquestionably the power who keeps the feckless Gelb.

  • Art Above $ says:

    One of the problems I see over and over again with arts organizations is that management takes purely a bottomline view…and only a bottomline view. While running an arts organization is indeed a business, it is first and foremost an artistic endeavor. Let me put that another way: in order of priority, it is Arts first, Business second. The real financial implications of running such an organization cannot, of course, be ignored. However, imposing huge cuts in pay & benefits, showing blatant disregard for the world-class artists who have spent a lifetime honing their craft, CANNOT be the way forward. The Met Opera is loaded with many of the worlds most exceptional people whether instrumentalists, vocalists, stagehands, etc. Steps such as those proposed by Mr. Gelb will most certainly lead to many of these incredibly gifted people fleeing for better conditions. And if you want to talk bottomline, that means a less quality production in every way, an alienated audience (that I believe is already fed up with Mr. Gelb’s approach) and a plummeting of box office receipts.

    My advise to Mr. Gelb and the Board of Directors: keep your priorities straight! The Met is known as one of the word’s greatest opera houses; not one fo the world’s greatest companies that happens to produce music. That’s a VERY important distinction; one I hope will be recognized before a lockout occurs.

    • vf says:

      “Steps such as those proposed by Mr. Gelb will most certainly lead to many of these incredibly gifted people fleeing for better conditions.”
      Where are conditions better than those at the Met? From what I’ve read European companies don’t pay anywhere near the Met, is there some place in the US that pays better than the Met?

    • back stage exconvict says:

      The Met Opera is loaded with racist department heads(stagehands) that fire people of color and replace them with their nephews and relatives. SHUT IT DOWN. KARMA.

  • Johnny Longjohn says:

    It appears another Minnesota Orchestra situation is unfolding. Hopefully all the union workers will stand strong and fight the necessary fight, no matter how long it takes. Don’t cave in the way musicians in some orchestras have. Consider Atalanta, Indianapolis, or the failure that is St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. There was never unity amongst those musicians and a few influential and divisive players (why, nobody knows) helped push through a horrible contract. Now it’s a pick-up orchestra with lousy salary, no year-to-year pay increases to speak of, and apparently mediocre concerts too. Be strong, Met union workers, and stick up for what’s right!

    • Sarah says:

      What has happened at the SPCO is heartbreaking. I spent seven long months with Save Our SPCO trying desperately to save he situation only to discover week by week what a cesspool it was and how much power the biggest donors have. Fortunately we were able to make a difference with the MN O but it was nasty.

  • Felipe says:

    Looking beyond the current situation to a time when (if) The Met re-opens, the morale in the House, already said to be in the dumps, will be hell-on-earth. And good luck re-capturing your already-dwindling audience, Herr Gelb. People will find other things to do with their time and money.

  • Nick says:

    When you are spending $320 million + and have to raise $160 million + in private donations each year, it cannot just be a case of arts first, business second. They both have to be equal. There are many examples in the non-profit sector where this works extremely well. The problem at the Met is that the administration and the Board, by permitting costs to jump 50% during Gelb’s tenure and not ensuring that income kept pace, have simply ignored the bottom line. Had they been exercising due diligence, they would not now be in the huge hole from which they are now trying to dig their way out.

  • Carlos says:

    Peter Gelb only knows how to burn money and create poisonous situations. His dice were cast not the moment he went out to antagonize the unions but the moment he antagonized the public demonstrating that he doesn’t give a s*** if EVERYBODY hates his stupid productions. When you antagonize the Opera going public, don’t expect flowers. He’s simply inflamed passions to such a point that I don’t see any way out then he resigning, even if he has a contract to 2020 or whenever.

  • J La says:

    Does the misogyny running through the post by Save the Met bother anyone but me? Does it bother the Save the Met bloggers? Additionally there are plenty of business people who have destroyed non-profits. Experience running a business does not, in itself, necessarily do the trick. Look at what happened to NYC Opera, among others. That was a business board.

    • musicologyman says:

      I suppose one might make the case that what you’re reading is misogynistic. The problem, though, is that the discussion concerns people holding exercising social, economic, artistic, and political power. Further, the board members are acting on behalf of their class (or a part of their class), one from which most people who are more concerned with and even think deeply about artistic matters are, given their relatively modest net worth, perforce excluded.

      In fact, I suppose one would be on firmer ground–if you want to pursue the misogynistic line–by arguing that many of the board members are playing the traditional roles characteristic of the upper class in modern Western patriarchal societies.

  • musicologyman says:

    I’m curious: was there ever a run of the Otto Schenk Ring that did not sell out? I find it enormously revealing that he LePage production, which, like any Ring production serves as a feather in the cap of an opera house’s management, not only did not sell out in its latest revival, but that the house contained a ridiculously high proportion of empty seats for such a popular work. (It’s not as if they were performing Moses und Aron!) If that doesn’t count in part as one of the most colossal demonstrations of managerial fecklessness in operatic history, what does?

    Of course, we kid ourselves if competence has anything to do with how folks so often ascend to positions of power.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I believe the Schenk Ring was always sold out.

      I would take your question a step further: how do old productions sell compared to new ones? I can’t help suspecting that the watered down Eurotrash style of many new productions turns off those of us who love naturalistic productions, without attracting enough new audiences.

    • Nick says:

      Thank you Kaye for an extremely valid point. Leaving aside the issue of cancellations and the fact that 2013 was the Wagner bicentenary, I totally agree that the period over which Ring cycles are presented can be crucial. I have travelled to see four Ring cycles, including Bayreuth. All were completed in the six-day period you mention. Whilst some Ring followers would not be overly concerned about the cost of an additional two days for the Met’s 2013 production, some considering travelling from afar certainly would.

      Yet is this not just another example of the Gelb administration’s incompetence (and I have taken care in using that word)? I was considering flying many thousands of miles to see the Achim Freyer cycle in LA in May/June 2010. I was put off by its being presented over 9 nights. Indeed, this was one of the very specific reasons given by the company’s management after the event for lacklustre ticket sales. Was anyone at the Met paying attention? Even though their schedules for 2013 (three years later) had already been drafted, drafts are frequently changed – even for such a complex revival. That they were not changed indicates they were paying scant attention to the possibility of out-of-town sales. Accordingly, the argument that audiences were down due to so many cycles being presented around the world that year falls flat on its face!

  • Nancy says:

    Peter is very used to getting his way and if he doesn’t, he makes everyone miserable around him. He is not a compromiser. It was pure pleasure to read something that calls him out truthfully, but I fear that not a lot will make this man change his ways even if it is at the cost of others. He is being extremely short-sighted and I can only hope that he will never be hired by anyone again.

  • John Sacher says:

    I have to say, ‘Save the Met’s’ attitude towards donors, and especially women who ‘spend their husbands money’ is quite troubling (and misogynistic). I guess this is the rhetoric that we should expect over the next few weeks.

    Question for ‘Save the Met’? How much of your annual salary (and yes, who pays you), do you donate to the arts?

    • Save the MET says:

      John,

      The truth is the truth. Most of the key leaders of the Metropolitan Opera Board have wealth through their husbands. It was not earned by them and in the case of Madame Chairman Ziff, she is a second wife, the money was already in the hopper when she married. In the old days, it was inherited wealth at the Mestropolitan Opera except Otto Khan, but by God he was an amazing businessman, now the board is the playground of the nouveau riche. If you look at their biographies, they are mostly “philanthropists” who are spending hubbies money. Why is it troubling to you, or misogynistic? My point is completely accurate. These women do not have business leadership experience; it’s great they are donating to the opera They are on the Board of the biggest budget opera house in the World, but continue to employ an amateur who has grown the budget dramatically and blew their donated fortunes.

      As far as I’m concerned, I am on the board of two arts organizations and give substantially. Giving to the Metropolitan Opera at this point in time is a waste of my money. If radical cjange is made at the house, I’ll give radically again. Right now it’s good money after bad.

      • vf says:

        Is the savethemetopera.com site your site?

      • vf says:

        And I agree, the way you talk about the women on the board is very creepy (brought to my mind this famous movie scene http://faculty.cua.edu/johnsong/hitchcock/pages/stills-shadow/table.html brrrr)

      • Nick says:

        Sorry John, I tend to agree more with Save the Met. What he/she writes is largely the truth, as others are pointing out about boards in other US arts organisations. Gelb’s reputation is well-known. His overspending during his tenure at the Met is well known. With the recession not yet fully behind us, perhaps you can enlighten us with information of other opera companies which have increased expenditure by some 50% over 8 years. (From the information I can obtain on the internet, it seems the Chicago Lyric Opera expenditure increased by approx. 17.5% during the same period). Perhaps you can enlighten us as to why Gelb has permitted overtime at the Met to be so horrendously high thereby resulting in the take-home salaries which Gelb now insists are too high. Perhaps you can enlighten as as to why in only Gelb’s second season “stage crew were complaining that they had to put in too much overtime because changeovers between overly complex productions required extra labor.” (source: parterre.com)

        Perhaps you can also enlighten us about the backgrounds of any of the Board members listed in the 7th post above that qualify them to make considered, knowledgeable and value judgements on all the myriad of extra costs that would become essential when they collectively decided to go ahead with the massively costly Lepage Ring, or about the reason for flying from Europe a singer for the relatively small role of Marcellina in “Nozze di Figaro”, for example, when there must be dozens of US-based artists fully capable of taking on that role with distinction.

  • Edie says:

    The Met was in a “sustainable” condition when Gelb arrived.
    Joe Volpe was asked NOT to return to this year’s negotiations.
    A very well known board member resigned the position in protest over PG’s tactics.
    A temporary worker in the finance department found irregularities in the “books” last winter. He made several attempts to alert his superiors. He was ignored. When he attempted to contact the board in an effort to make his findings known, he was escorted bodily from the building.

  • Sarah says:

    The same questions could be asked of you. And it’s interesting that you immediately think there is money involved.

  • Andrew says:

    Peter Gelb should remember what ended up happening to the board members and president of the MN Orch that tried to pull this shit. The ones responsible are all out on their ass while the musicians are back at work.

  • John Nemaric, Ph.D. says:

    I have an answer for you question. In 2007 a high official of the PSO during a pre-season announcement in Heinz Hall was asked by a patron of the orchestra how much Maestro Honeck was going to be paid per season (at that time mind you) and the answer was in the millions (plural). I was there and that’s what I heard.

    One must consider that Mariss Jansons had broken the one million mark during his tenure with the same orchestra just a few years earlier. Heard on the corridors and around the water coolers of Heinz Hall that Honeck was close to 2,000,000 per season of 10 concerts. What he makes now after his contract renewal is anybodies’ guess.

  • Save the MET says:

    Clearly their are irregularities with the Metropolitan Opera’s books. The New York Attorney General should be investigating. First and foremost, the Metropolitan Opera claimed a profit in 2011. However, that very same year, they “borrowed” money from the pension fund which has yet to be repaid and should be repaid with interest. Second, enough of the twenty million dollar Ring Cycle, the cycle prior to the second poorly attended bis, the real numbers are hovering over thirty million dollars and cost over-runs have been hidden in their books. Diana Fortuna, the assistant house manager for finance is the creatuve accountant and also the leading union buster on the Metropolitan Opera staff. As I said, it may be time for the New York Attorney General to step in, as so much of their income comes from donations and the financial irregularities are well known in the house.

    • Nick says:

      Just one quick thought. Because of their huge capital expense Ring cycles are generally kept in the repertoire and brought back with reasonable regularity over a good 20 years or so. That’s the period of time during which the Otto Schenk Ring was presented followed by six full revivals each performed at least twice. If the attendance figures for the return of the Lepage Ring in 2012/13 averaged only 58% of box office potential, can the Met dare to bring it back – ever?

  • Nelson says:

    I’m just curious how you chose to brandish the quote “Virtually Certain” in your headline? What I see is in the article which you host is: “the eventual result will LIKELY be the cancellation of all Met performances throughout 2014”.

    I’m not taking sides with Mr. Gelb by calling your journalistic tactics into question, but isn’t it rather unprofessional to put words into someone’s mouth in such a manner? It’s already an inflamed enough situation without such shenanigans.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Can you read? Can you see the phrase in bold in the AGMA letter? Does it not say exactly what is in the headline? Go back and graduate from grade school before you accuse us again of distortion.

  • Save the MET says:

    Just happy to irritate you Kaye.

  • james says:

    The widening racial divide at the Met Opera House has become more evident in the firing of at least 27 minorities in the last 25 years. There has been a great deal of nepotism,favoritism,racism exhibited by the dept heads, hr and several of the maintenance heads, some visible but a lot invisible,or that certainly fly under the radar screen.These useful idiots have been accused of intolerance,censorship,thuggishness and work place bullying at every turn. Discrimination itself is a terrible disease of the heart,mind and soul,which if left without remedy only serves to divide and conquer.Despite its claim of being an equal opportunity employer,there’s nothing like the Met Opera House.The greatest venue in the world. The Met is the major league of Opera. The purpose of the the Civil Rights Act of 68,was to remind ourselves of what this country has been through,its changes and what we love about the USA and what we can love it even more when equal opportunity for all minorities,ethnicities and women are improved upon. Percy Green once stated that how a person socializes is how these individuals run their companies.If they belong to an all white social setting,then it stands to reason that they won’t have a conscious in terms of how they run their companies as it relates to race. These type of discrimination needs to be abolished altogether. Some of these stagehands should be in jail for beating up Teri Orsburn(read her story online).Youtube Antonio Jenkins Met Opera Racism Federal Hearing.

    • Bill says:

      I’m ashamed that none of those thugs lost their jobs for beating up Teri Orsburn and sexually harassing Leah Nelson. Both were excellent stage techs with years of experience.

  • James Naples says:

    The iatse union of stagehands are a bunch of greedy men.

  • Save the MET says:

    The 10 year contract clearly shows the incompetence of the current Metropolitan Opera Board.

  • John Sacher says:

    Actually, Mr Lebrecht, in Nelson’s defense, the phrase that is used in the letter that you chose to bold is ‘a virtual certainty’, not ‘virtually certain’ as you have chose to put in your headline. So rather than telling someone to go back to grade school, maybe you should yourself should return to journalism school so you can quote phrases in headlines accurately.

    • Nick says:

      In view of your proficiency in the English language, can you kindly advise those less skilled the difference between “a virtual certainty” and “is virtual certain”?

      • John Sacher says:

        Nick- In journalism, when you quote something in a headline, you are quoting verbatim from the source. Changing words, even slightly, should not be put in quotes. My comment was in reference to Mr Lebrecht’s comment to Nelson, when Mr Lebrecht in a very nasty way wrote ‘can you read’, continuing with ‘Go back and graduate from grade school…’ – (notice i didn’t change it to can’t you read, etc- When the author of these piece chooses to lash out at people in such a way, maybe his own errors need to be pointed out as well.

        • Nick says:

          Sorry John, but I have to say I believe the comment is merely an example of pedantry. Of course you are correct. But pick up newspapers any day of the week all over the world and you will find sub-editors have made similar changes in headlines. The fact is: NL did not IN ANY WAY alter the meaning or the intent of the comment. So my question remains: what is the difference between “a virtual certainty” and “is virtual certain”? As far as I am aware, there is none. But please do enlighten me.

  • leah nelson says:

    Leah Nelson sues the MET for sexual harassment and wins. Teri Orsburn sues the met for sexual harassment and wins. read teri orsburns story online.

  • teri orsburn says:

    I am a white 53 year old female ex-stagehand and was sexually harassed by the stagehands and eventually fired. I had no choice but to sue the Met and I won. Read my story in the post. Google teri sues the MET.

  • Bill says:

    Nobody cares about the MET. I don’t work there so forget them.

  • Whoa nelly says:

    Stagehands arrive at the theater before 9 am and leave after midnight.

    Chorus starts at 10: 30 and leaves after midnight, usually with only a 2 hour continuous break between last rehearsal and a 6pm show call.

    Hardly a typical schedule for any “union”.

  • Flockenstein says:

    Were there lots of empty seats at the performances of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron? The night I went back in 1999 the house was full. And as Anthony Tommasini noted in his review, the opera was a “success.”

    Are you one of those union members who has an antipathy to anything written after 1901? You do know if you keep up with only the older operas you’ll have almost no younger attendees, right? A recipe for disaster, by any measure.

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