Peter Gelb puts his money in toilet paper

Peter Gelb puts his money in toilet paper


norman lebrecht

October 13, 2014

The Metropolitan Opera has commissioned a series of short films, , using animation, video, and film to illuminate current productions and fill out the HD intermissions. The first release is Macbeth. It’s… crap.

met shorts

Unsurprising, really. The company that makes these shorts is called Toilet Paper Productions.


  • Francois says:

    You are absolute correct. It belongs in a toilet of the long drop variety.

    • BOB MOORE says:

      Saw the Toiletpaper offering on a rebroadcast of Macbeth last night. Absolutely awful. What is Gelb thinking? Will have to re-evaluate my monetary commitment to the Met if this keeps up.

  • Nick says:

    Sadly crap is too kind a word for this piece of utter rubbish! Gelb back on his home turf, it would seem.

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    I rather like it 🙂 (Sorry, people 🙁 )

  • Lane Bellamy says:

    It looks rather odd, but it seems harmless enough. Maybe it makes more sense in the context of other short films in the series.

    • Marshall says:

      It’s crap.

      Rather have some misguided fool like it, than think it harmless.

      Apparently the Met is selling off art and jewelry to raise money, yet they waste it on this.
      At the HD broadcast I was at, people gave it a try, and then sort of seemed more sad than angry-and why the toilet paper name for the production, why?..because it’s crap.

  • Gesnyc says:

    Talk about Gelb flushing more money away. He really needs to be fired and place a head that gets it put in place.

  • OhGlorioso says:

    Who is the audience for this? It’s juvenile and the level of production is low. I guess we should be grateful that they actually used Verdi’s music and not some riff on it. But it is all, ahem, crappy. What’s with the green beans??

  • Lane Bellamy says:

    If Peter Gelb’s name were not associated with this film, nobody would give it a second thought. But, since he’s the Antichrist…

  • william osborne says:

    In the larger course of history, art always becomes isomorphic with the technology, philosophies, and economies that support it. Only those art forms that adapt to video, its economies, and forms of distribution will truly survive. Orchestras and live opera have long since become doomed. The idea of using 500 people and a million dollars a performance for music theater for fat cats ostentatiously displaying their wealth will become something of the past.

    This process is already at work at the Met and most other houses. Music theater will become smaller, and inherently adapted to video where it will be mostly experienced via the web. The technology will continue to improve dramatically, and eventually become something like a holographic, hallucinogenic experience. It will also likely become interactive and immersive, something like video games.

    These short films are thus extremely interesting because they are one more movement in that direction. And of course, the videos have a hip, irreverent, ironic tone exactly because a stagnant, dead art form is being cast in the form of one that is current and relevant. And let’s face it, a media mogul like Gelb will follow these trends, while classical music’s powdered wig crowd will fight progress, howling and jeering the whole way. They will be especially concerned with conveying their cultural superiority, a central ethos of classical music’s aristocratic origins. In short, they’ve got to shit on something, hence Toilet Paper Productions. Business as usual.

    So I’m anxious to see the other films and how they might imply what the future of music theater will be. It will certainly be closer to Square Pants Sponge Bob, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, South Park, David Lynch, and Quentin Tarantino than the bel canto bellowing of Bellini, or the ponderous ruminations of Wagner’s 19th century cultural nationalism. These video shorts outline the future, so now we get to see classical music’s powdered wig crowd have a bit of apoplexy. Adds to the amusement of it all.

  • Just. Wow. I assume “commissioned” means money was spent on this TP? And that man has been charged to save $11.25M each of the next four years? Please tell me this was the winner of some student contest with no remuneration involved.

  • John says:

    I’m in agreement with everything Mr. Osborne says. We need to rethink arts promotion all around, but without over promising or candy-coating what the product is about. But this trailer just leaves me confused. Would this someone — anybody — to want to go to hear Verdi’s Macbeth? It didn’t do anything for me. No, that’s not exactly true. I can close my eyes and hear Verdi’s great music triumphing over the banality of the visuals.

    • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

      I think, in order to understand the why and wherefore of this promo you have to put yourself in the position of someone who does not know Verdi’s music.

  • Anonymus says:

    I just lost two minutes of my life watching this crap. Why was it made? For whom?

  • newyorker says:

    This conversation reminds me of a Letterman skit he called “Something or Nothing”.

    It’s cute, it’s modern, and it tells us not very much at all about the opera Macbeth, but might sell it nonetheless. Move on, people!

  • Mango says:

    The question is not whether or not this film is “high art” or even good, but rather, since Gelb has been screaming that the Met will be bankrupt and CUTS MUST BE MADE, why is he spending money on a film that few people will see, understand or appreciate? Plus…why in the world would he commission a film making fun of the very art he is supposed to be championing? Truly a head-scratcher.

  • Dave K says:

    They need to put it behind them.

  • Dave T says:

    More engaging and amusing than that bloviating windbag’s opera. Yes, indeed the film is entirely inappropriate.

  • Christopher Crowe says:

    As a longtime fan of both opera and film – I liked it.