Exclusive leak: Peter Gelb rages at ‘inaccurate’ New Yorker profile

The general manager of the Metropolitan Opera has circulated the following bruised-ego letter, with attachments, to his board, complaining about an essentially pro-Met article:

Dear Fellow Members of the Board,
As you know, The New Yorker recently ran a lengthy article about the Met that unfortunately contained many inaccuracies. In response, we’ve sent the following letter to The New Yorker, which was also read aloud at the most recent Board meeting of March 19th.  If you have questions, we would be happy to answer them.
peter gelb letterpeter gelb letter2

(If you cannot read the small print, the letter is fully transcribed here).Our favourite passage reads:

‘Stewart attempts to give the impression that the Board is divided. In fact, the Board solidly supports Gelb and is united in its commitment to securing the future of grand opera, the Met and its employees.’We assume the letter will appear in the next issue of the New Yorker.

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  • Well, I can tell you that some of the productions did really keep me out. I don’t mind “modern” productions, as long as they are good. Most of the new Met productions were definitely inferior to those that were replaced.

  • The article was “pro-Met” but clearly and justifiably anti-Gelb and anti-current Board. As in loving America but being rationally opposed to its current executive & legislative branches.

  • If ticket sales are down at the Met, it’s not because interest in opera is declining. If Gelb’s push to reinvigorate the Met audience with new productions is not, in fact, working, then it is the responsibility of the Met’s board to call him to account and find another solution.

  • Mr. Gelb is a sad sack in the proverbial land of excuses. Its embarrassing to the opera at this point. The Company is failing and he’s been there 9 years. His marketing sucks, his programming sucks, his productions on the whole suck. Thye made a massive error making an opera neophyte who gave programs out in his youth the Artistic Manager’s job as well as the General Managers job. Would you give the keys to a car to someone without a license? Would you hire a bank CEO that formerly was a house painter? How much longer do the buffoons on the Metropolitan Opera Board hang onto this feckless leader of what is now a rudderless ship? As a businessperson, if I were head of the Metropolitan Opera Board, I would have given him a pink slip several years ago and told him not to let the door hit him in the rear. So sad to see a fixable problem fester.

  • James b stewart happens to be one of the most respected business journalists. Gelb’s words will ring hollow. He knows his days are numbered. Another interesting thing few pointed out is how not a single orchestra member was interviewed for the 60 Minutes profile of Levine. The Met is a tale of two egos. The board is enabling them and only has itself to blame. The Met will survive but the sooner it can move on from a Putin (Gelb) and Castro (Levine) leadership model, the better.

  • You can take the letter and enlarge it in another window. Not rocket science.

    Look…this Board is acting in the usual desperate manner of many US non-profit boards. They do not want to admit they made mistakes. It’s classic.

    However, the issue is that the Met board now understands they have a big problem with Gelb at the helm.

    They are attacking one of the most respected business journalists in the English speaking world. This isn’t a hack who spews the usual glitter and glorified press releases in a profile of Gelb. This is a well researched piece with gritty details.

    How about the part about asking what Maestro Levine makes for his twenty performances? The refusal to share this information with a member of the board who gives substantial sums only to be followed by a denial that the conversation ever took place (by the accused party) and the resignation of said board member?

    This executive committee is mainly composed of non-finance people who are used to getting their way because they have lots of money. That’s fine . They get what they paid for.

    The Met will survive the Gelb regime (which is basically akin to a Putin-like censored existence) and the greed infused Levine era (which although momentous on many levels has become tired and painful for the orchestra; mind you no orchestra members were interviewed for Levine’s 60 Minutes piece). By the way, Levine is soon approaching a Fidel Castro like existence on the throne. How long can this last?

    Anyway, the Met Board is to blame for everything. They brought Gelb in but let him run loose. He had a vision and his vision was to be a Hollywood studio boss.

    The sky isn’t falling because there will always be another billionaire ready to throw money at the Met. However, the majesty of the Met is eroding daily.

    The New Yorker should be commended for publishing a brilliant and accurate article.

  • This letter is not from Peter Gelb. It is signed by officers of the Met’s Board of Directors. And it correctly points out several inaccuracies in the New Yorker piece.

  • That letter is incoherent: the difference between the two fiscal year salaries quoted is 33%, which is an enormous change, yet the letter uses those two numbers to claim that the difference is minimal; then to claim that there is no union oversight while pointing out to a contractual mechanism that establishes … union oversight … I’m curious as to who actually wrote this, because surely the Met can afford better propaganda.

  • Well Mr. Gelb is trying to sell opera the same way some might sell CREST toothpaste, except it isn’t CREST. He knows little to nothing about music, nor does he seem to care.
    People go to the opera to hear great music making, great voices, not to watch machines and Rigoletto in Vegas. He is ruining it for all of us.
    STEP DOWN Mr. Gelb and let a person of good musical knowledge run the MET, with the right priorities run the place; then you might sell the house at higher than 70%.

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