Met latest: From lockout to sellout

Met latest: From lockout to sellout


norman lebrecht

August 19, 2014

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.

peter gelb1




  • Save the MET says:

    Best for the Met that he exit stage right. Bad management led to his, he now can’t make a move without the approval of an auditor, the Board, the musicians and the chorus. In other words, he does not have the confidence of his staff. A leader of a large operation like the Met cannot operate effectively under these conditions. Not that he was operating effectively before.

    • eatdessertfirst says:

      PLEASE “Orchestra and Chorus”, not “Musicians and Chorus”. The chorus was trained at all the same conservatories and music schools, right along with the orchestra. They are musicians of the highest caliber. Might seem like semantics, but it is important.

  • NY Musician says:

    The fundamental point(s): he is a terrible business man, a terrible administrator and completely unfit to run an opera company to say the least. Everything he has done to date has done nothing but prove this.

  • Lewes says:

    People who actually run opera houses don’t read “Slipped Disc,” let alone share tittle-tattle. Attach names to direct quotations or else admit that you’re running a gossip column.

    • Nick says:

      I suspect you are very wrong there! Board members may feel themselves above such blogs, but I can assure you that many in the business of producing and presenting opera regularly read this and other music-related blogs.

      Gelb is now a spent force. From having a virtual free reign, his every move will now be scrutinised at various levels. The recent negotiations have shown another layer of his utter inexperience in running any major company. Stage left, stage right or stage door, it doesn’t matter which exit he takes. It’s time for his departure.

      • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

        Dead right, Nick! I know personally several opera management bods (three Intendants among them) who regularly keep abreast of what is doing the rounds, on not only Slipped Disc but on other music-arts blogs as well. Although sometimes the facts as stated might not always be quite accurate, quite often the gist of what is said is highly relevant and often informative.
        As far as I am concerned, I have found the recent NL blogs re the Met very enlightening and transparent. It has been extraordinary to be able to keep abreast of the Met ordeals on Slipped Disc and Sinfini. Without blogs like these I would feel very out of touch, since the normal printed/online Press tends to ignore the various goings on in the Arts unless it is able to sensationalise it. On the whole I don’t feel that NL is sensationalising much at all, and that his desire to both inform us and provoke responses from us can only be to the good of the Arts and professionals involved in the Arts in general.

    • Save the MET says:

      I know for a fact Gelb reads this column, Parterre Box, the WQXR Blog and monitors Opera-L. He is desperate to find out what is said about him.

      • Marshall says:

        Let’s leave Slipped Disc aside for obvious reasons. I love this-“I know for a fact that Gelb reads…” what else do you know about him for a fact?

        Yes, blogs are different, but the primary opera ones all end up the same way-even OperaL which was thought a cut above the others years ago-and if that was the case- has descended into same, repetitious, superficial comments about singers and favorites. In the early days some name people, critics, singers, supposedly would post on them. But then it turned out that most of them were fake.Hard for me to believe that upper arts management take their clues from these blogs.-is that what’s wrong with them?

        It’s funny that people I know who are great opera lovers, go frequently (far more than I do at this point), even have subscriptions, always look at me blankly when I mention what I just read on one of the blogs. It is simply not part of their world of opera-they have the real thing. (though they admit it seems to be good if you want to know who died a few hours before it shows up in the papers)

        Gelb reads Parterre Box to know what is said about him. Oy veh, it all makes sense now.

      • Lewes says:

        If you say you “know for a fact,” then one of the following must be true:

        a) You work for Peter Gelb and you are currently betraying the confidence of your employer by gossiping about him online; or

        b) You know someone who works for Peter Gelb, and that someone is talking out of school; or

        c) You’re making stuff up.

        So, which is it?

  • Amy says:

    Marshall, I have no idea whether you are “real” yourself…but what you just wrote is a blast of fresh air for the Gelb/Met threads here. Hear, hear…!

    It’s the repetition that gives it away. Also, the rampant
    You may be one of the only people saying “Great job, Mr. Gelb.” projecting: “He is desperate to find out what is said about him.” “You’re truly deranged.”

    “Hey Everyone! I comment on the following blogs, under numerous identities! Come notice me!” – sincerely, dedicated timewaster

    • Marshall says:

      Now here I am Amy being a time waster when I should be doing something else……guilty

      For whatever good it does, I am “real”, and unlike yrs. in the past when I was active on the blogs. this time around I even use my real name. (seems I have no axe to grind-if that helps in proving “reality)

      So I take the first sentence as approval, but you lost me a bit on the rest-your own caricature, I presume.

      I hope Gelb, et al, have better uses for their time than to read some of these blogs

      • Amy says:

        Yes, Marshall. I meant to caricature the repetitive and shallow observations made here by, I believe, the same person utilizing numerous identities. (Even making them talk to each other, like little dolls!)

        That’s really my own personal “axe” …putting a little label on the cheap dishonesty of narcissists. I suppose by giving her/him any energy at all I am one of the guiltiest of the timewasters…

  • Amy says:

    …so… c) is the answer, then.

  • Penny S says:

    The Board got a 7% pay cut for 3 years with higher co-pays still on the table. Before that they had a counteroffer of 1% on overtime rate rollbacks and zero on benefits.

    The financial oversight is a palliative. Gelb is the Board’s man. It’s oversight of the Board. Unless there are penalty provisions in the contract, it has no teeth.

    In any case, all bets are off until the stagehands union signs.

  • Fabio Luisi says:

    No, it’s me, and I unfortunately know some choruses in which singers have very limited musical notions, a good voice though.Please allow me not to name them. In the case of the Metropolitan Chorus (and of many others too), the members are both: good musicians and good singers.