The Met gets a one-par reply in the New Yorker

The Met gets a one-par reply in the New Yorker


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2015

When the New Yorker refused to publish a letter from the Metropolitan Opera accusing it of inaccuracy, cooler heads than Peter Gelb’s submitted a shortened, watered-down version of the General Manager’s original rant, leaving out any suggestion that the reporter got it wrong.

Here’s what gets published today:


Tribeca Talks After the Movie: "Wagner's Dream" - 2012 Tribeca Film Festival



We were disheartened to read James Stewart’s piece about the Metropolitan Opera, which presents a one-sided, negative view of what is, in fact, a thriving, vital organization that is essential to the cultural life of New York, and of the world (“A Fight at the Opera,” March 23rd). The article emphasizes the challenging economics of grand opera and the difficulties of the Met’s recent union negotiations without providing a balanced perspective on a company that is at the height of its artistic powers. Today, the Met is at the fore, making opera globally accessible through our game-changing, live, high-definition transmissions, which have been seen by millions of people, in seventy countries. We’re certainly not suggesting that sustaining the Met is an easy task, but, under the watchful eye of the energetic Peter Gelb, his management team, and our dedicated board, it is a mission that is being accomplished. There is plenty of drama at the Met, both onstage and off, but not as Stewart told it.

Kevin Kennedy, President

Ann Ziff, Chairman

William C. Morris, Executive Committee Chairman

Judith-Ann Corrente, Secretary

Metropolitan Opera

New York City

In addition, there are letters from the AFL-CIO’s Alan Gordon and a ‘stunned’ reader. Click here.



  • Petros Linardos says:

    How do we know who wrote the longer, unpublished letter?

  • Richard Bonforte says:

    This revised letter totally ignores the real issue — fiscal mismanagement and lack of oversight. Gelb is not a manager in the real sense of the word and especially when it comes to budgetary issue. One wonders just what the Finance Committee of the Board (Is there one?) is doing. From this letter, the Board thinks Gelb is doing just fine and things are in order.

  • Daniel Farber says:

    The Board apparently has elected to let the Company sink or swim with Gelb. When the house of cards comes tumbling down, an awful lot of people will be angry and out of work, while Gelb and the trustees will never have to work another day in their lives. It’s not a exactly a new story but a disheartening one all the same. By the way, since Stewart’s article appeared we’ve not heard much from those who claim that all the Met needs to do to solve its problems is to sack its music director.

  • Nick says:

    Gelb has never been “a manager in the real sense of the word” and the fact that the top people on his Board totally fail to recognise this is the most bewildering part of the entire Met saga. It’s as if having appointed a man with no “real” qualifications to lead and direct this most famous institution, the Board continues to hang on to his coat tails, failing to realise that these are now quite threadbare and will not hold out much longer.

    They continue to place their faith in Gelb’s simplistic theories that more new productions with more theatrically based directors and more HD transmissions will right the ship eventually. They won’t! Audience figures and levels of donations don’t lie. Mrs. Ziff and her cronies are turning the Met into their own exclusive club. When they and their misguided protégé depart the sinking ship, who is out there to plug the leaks and right it again? That is one helluva job that is going to take a huge amount of cash and the degree of management expertise Gelb has always lacked.

    Yes, Mrs. Ziff, Messrs Kennedy, Morris and Ms. Corrente, there certainly will be drama aplenty at the Met once the blood really begins to flow!

  • Sam Michael says:

    Gelb is destroying the Metropolitan Opera. Could it be he wants to destroy it?
    An incompetent General Director and his Board did it to the NYCO and now it is the happening at the MET. Every new production is a loser with the public, because the public knows: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
    And then there is the singing… but that’s a horse of a different color.