Peter Gelb: How I saved the Met

Peter Gelb: How I saved the Met


norman lebrecht

December 23, 2014

If you to know the meaning of hubris, watch this new interview with the Metropolitan Opera manager by a fawning host on a college site. It’s a classic of post-modern sycophancy and myopic self-regard. This is a man who has learned nothing in 2014.

peter gelb1

For an instant refutation, see here.


  • Has been says:

    Lets have a moratorium on Peter Gelb bashing. Apart from anything else by avoiding a strike we are able to hear performances conducted by one of the great opera conductors of the modern age, James Levine !

    • John Kelly says:

      A moratorium on Gelb-bashing on SD? You must be kidding. That’s about as likely as Burnley winning the Premiership.

    • NYMike says:

      Evidently, you – like many others – have yet to learn the difference between a strike (instigated by the union), and a lockout (instigated by management). In this case, what was avoided was a lockout.

  • Save the MET says:

    One would hope with the new Moody’s credit rating, just above trash level, that Mr. Gelb would be toast well before 3 years from now. He’s had 6 already and look how well he serves the MET…..hah!

  • Nick says:

    A puff piece plain and simple. Whenever an interviewer says near the start “As an uneducated observer . . .” you know straightaway that he will have been fed most of the questions from the Met press office. The whole Gelb interview is a boring repetition of what he has said before – ad nauseam.

    As for the financial statements in the other recent thread, the near 700% rise in the deficit in 2013 over 2012 and just 53 days cash in hand says a great deal. Putting the Chagalls up as loan collateral yet again must some day surely put the future of these treasures as a permanent fixture of the House in doubt.

  • Brian says:

    OTH, Margaret, if you’ve heard airchecks of Met broadcasts from 1940 when there was a severe crisis, and again in the early Bing era and after the Met moved to LC, you’ll know the alarm bell was rung clangourously and repeatedly. And it worked. Modified wailing and gnashing of teeth can sometimes be effective.

  • Richard says:

    Where has the Met Board been during all of this financial debacle. They have fiduciary responsibility to oversee the entire management of the organization and be on top of things like this. Like the NYCO Board, the Met Board sees to be more concerned about how well they look in the Program booklet! Disgraceful. As for the Peter Gelb, he hasn’t a clue — and he’s arrogant about it as well. Here again, the Board rewards his incompetence as financial decline continues by giving him a raise!!!

  • sdReader says:

    I wouldn’t describe Zirin as a fawning host.

  • Daniel Farber says:

    The sad truth is that Gelb, not very smart or courageous but certainly not wanting in self-regard, is about “average” these days for a top arts administrator. The Met is in need of someone with greater skills, both financial and artistic. The big financial mess the Met is in is the fault of many. I am no fan of Gelb but I find very troubling the satisfaction and even joy that commentators on this blog continue to take in every bit of misfortune that strikes the Met Opera. It remains, if precariously, one of the great houses of the world. Yet Slipped Disc and many of its readers will likely try to have a holiday declared when the Met announces it is bankrupt, or when Levine falls out of his wheel-chair and loses the use of his arms.

    • Nick says:

      I agree with your comments about Gelb being “about average” and about the House requiring “someone with greater skills”, although I’d make that “much greater skills”. Not sure I agree that the “big financial mess” is the fault of many unless by “many” you mean members of the Board. Since his appointment Gelb has placed himself firmly on a pedestal in the public arena as the saviour of the House. The buck stops with him.

      Misfortune in the world of opera is only infrequently an Act of God. It’s far more likely to be the result of inefficiency, bad repertoire choices, poor marketing, bad planning and/or sheer bad management. Whatever the reasons, the man at the top takes the blame. What’s more, he knows he’s going to get the blame as soon as he accepts the job!