Gelb climbs down, opens books, calls in auditor

Gelb climbs down, opens books, calls in auditor


norman lebrecht

August 03, 2014

Overnight statements from both sides in the Metropolitan Opera dispute are encouraging and conciliatory.

Talks with the federal mediators have been extended by an extra week, the immediate lockout threat has been suspended and ‘all three parties have jointly agreed to retain an independent financial analyst to perform a due diligence financial study of the Met.’

The Met called the move ‘an effort to help all parties reach new contractual agreements’.

The auditor, Eugene Keilin (2nd r. on panel), worked for the City of New York during the 1975 financial crisis.


eugene keilin



His entry signifies a  considerable concession by Peter Gelb, the Met manager, who has refused the unions access to financial data until now. By suspending the lockout for another week, Gelb has all but abandoned his hardline demands that staff must accept a wage cut or face an immediate work stoppage.

The unions agreed to observe social media silence after a campaign that successfully undermined the Met’s obduracy. Members have been told: ‘At the request of the Federal Mediators, we now ask that you please refrain from posting anything on social media.’

Here’s a statement from the musicians:

metropolitan-opera exterior



New York, NY–Saturday, August 2, 2014–At the request of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), the Metropolitan Opera, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, and the American Guild of Musical Artists have agreed to a process for continuing their discussions. It was recommended by the FMCS and all three parties have jointly agreed to retain an independent financial analyst to perform a due diligence financial study of the Met and to render a non-binding report to the parties to assist them in reaching new collective bargaining agreements. During this process the employees covered will continue to perform their regular assignments under the terms of their contracts, which expired at midnight July 31, 2014.

Eugene Keilin, a co-founder of KPS Capital Partners, LP has been retained for this purpose. Mr. Keilin was formerly a General Partner of Lazard Freres & Co. and Chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corporation for the City of New York.

FMCS Deputy Director Allison Beck and Commissioner Kathleen Murray-Cannon commend Metropolitan Opera General Manager, Peter Gelb, Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi, and AGMA Executive Director Alan Gordon for their cooperation and commitment to work with FMCS with the goal of reaching an agreement that is acceptable to the parties.

James Odom, President of the American Guild of Musical Artists states: “We are encouraged with this step forward that we believe will address the issues in contention and will ultimately lead to an agreement that is fair to everyone.”

Tino Gagliardi, President of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM adds: “We all look forward to a fair and independent analysis of the complex issues we have been contending with for months. This is a significant development.”



  • Save the MET says:

    I hope this auditor bring his shovel and b.s. meter to the MET’s controller’s office, he’s going to need it. If he does his job, the duplicitous ant hills will be exposed, including the real cost of the LePage Ring Cycle and the borrowing from the Pension Fund (without a payback as of 2014) when they claimed a surplus in 2011 and other Gelb dumping grounds to bury the evidence of his free spending ways. If this audit is carried out properly, we should see the end of the Gelb tenure at the Metropolitan Opera, the Board will be appalled.

    • Claudia Menlo says:

      And when the auditor’s report comes back saying that the Met’s books are in reasonable order, what will you say then? Ah, I know: the auditor is corrupt.

      It must be hard to sing with that tin foil hat on your head.

    • Claudia Menlo says:

      If what are presenting you say is gossip, you should identify it as such.

      If you are presenting it as fact, then we either need to know who you are or else you need to cite your sources for this information.

      Otherwise, for all we know, everything you say is the raving of a madman. And the last thing this blog needs is more of that.

      • Charles Papendick says:

        Ms Menlo, I suppose we will see soon enough. However, the results of the audit are confidential. Anything else is speculation.

  • musicmuse says:

    Shouldn’t this independent audit have been pursued WEEKS ago, before Gelb’s ultimatums & threats??? Something truly smells here, and as the old saying goes, a fish rots from the head.

    • Charles Papendick says:

      If there is a shortage of money found, you can be sure that the singers, dancers, orchestra and stage hands don’t have it. Last I checked, they were the ones who are told when to work and for how long. They’re contracts have been in place for 3 years.
      For the Peter Gelb rhetoric to take a back seat to bean counting, means that money isn’t where it’s supposed to be. I wonder how far this goes …

  • Nancy says:

    My guess is that in anticipation of this exercise, a great amount spoliation has already occured so nothing will be found out. Very Enron.

  • It seems I hear over and over that the Ring was paid for by the Ziffs, including the additional expense of reinforcing the stage floor.

  • Rgiarola says:

    The words “independent analysis to conduct a due diligence” sounds too subtle for an adequate purpose of an audit. The difference between a consultant and an auditor is the level of independency the later got, but it depend on very specific points. First and most important is who is providing this independency? In a private company usually the BOD or even the shareholders can guarantee that an auditor will perform the task with full access and freedom, since no one besides then can fire the audit team. If and auditor doesn’t have it, if the audited key person is the one that hired the auditor turn to be a consultant for his/her intentions. I couldn’t understand where Mr. Keilin fits by the announcement. I hope in the real auditor role.