Attorneys are writing the small print on the new agreements as these words go live. The stage unions have yet to reach agreement, but both within the negotiating rooms and around the music business there is growing recognition and some degree of amazement at the scale of Peter Gelb’s defeat.
That he climbed down a few percentage points on pay cuts is no big deal. These things happen across a green baize table. That he made lockout threats he was unable to keep is a graver sign of weakness: Gelb has shot the biggest weapon he’s got and won’t be taken seriously in future.
But allowing the unions oversight of major financial decisions and a say in future investments amounts to a surrender of a vital management asset. Opera bosses around the world are, they tell Slipped Disc, rubbing their eyes in disbelief. One said: He lost the confidence of his musicians and singers and had to give away the crown jewels to regain a measure of respect. ‘All this,’ said another, ‘in exchange for a minuscule cut.’
Gelb is incredibly fortunate in having a group of musicians who want only the best for the Met. A more militant group would have made him pay a much heavier price for his empty-barrelled ebullience.