Peter Gelb: I’m in charge of 3,200 people, I can’t leave the building

Peter Gelb: I’m in charge of 3,200 people, I can’t leave the building


norman lebrecht

August 08, 2016

A further extract from the Met chief’s interview with Mark McLaren of ZealNYC:

Peter Gelb: I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to in my previous jobs. I can’t really. I have to be here on the scene, since I wear multiple hats. I have overall artistic and business responsibility, this is a very big company, its a living breathing organism. We’re our own little village.  We have over 3,200 full-time and part-time employees, and something is always happening here.

So my traveling during the season is always limited to a quick 24-hour trip to Europe or to London to check something out. For example, in a couple of weeks, I’m flying to Baden-Baden just for literally a 24-hour trip to be at the premier of our co-production of the new Tristan that will open our season this year in September, but that has its out-of-town premier in Baden-Baden.  So I make trips like that, but I fly back the next day. So I’m missing from The Met for literally, 24 or 36 hours.

Peter Gelb, General Manager of The Metropolitan Opera, during a press conference at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera



  • Petros Linardos says:

    We were already referred to this article in another post of the same blog just yesterday.

  • Standingstones says:

    He’s afraid if he left they might change the locks on the doors.

  • Steven Holloway says:

    I wish I could help this poor, imposed-upon, overburdened man. I should start by relieving him of that artistic responsibility which has been unfairly dumped on him. And not long after, he should have removed from his shoulders the business responsibility. He will surely feel better for this. And so will one hell of a lot of other people.

    • Ross says:

      He’s an administrator and front man for an ultra wealthy board.
      You have no idea how many decisions come from higher up than Gelb.
      Perhaps the billionaires prefer it that way…”It’s Gelb’s fault and he must go”….”Henson must go”….”Vulgamore…”, blah, blah.
      If the board thought Gelb should be fired, then they would fire him.

      • Pamela Brown says:

        Just a moment…Henson really did have to go…

      • Alan says:

        The “board” has been duped….well, 1-2 of them have been duped. Most of the board privately, disagree with Gelb….however, those 1-2 member of the board (and a simple search can show who I am referring to) have been manipulated beyond reason to support him. He is a master manipulator and he has been very smart in cozying up to those 1-2 board members. They have given him, literally a blank check to do whatever he wants. It’s a sad sad situation there. The other 98% of the board won’t go against those 1-2 because of their influence and basically, their money.
        To see what is on that stage these days is pathetic and everyone knows it, but they can’t do anything about it as long as those 1-2 support him. It’s beyond frustrating.

  • Nick says:

    Did the Met’s wealthy and ignorant Board members ever once consider the issue of Gelb’s prior experience in the art of delegation, so vital to anyone running such an organisation? Did they never look back at his resume and discover that in his prior employment he had virtually been a one-man band? (Yes, I know that Sony Classical had a few employees, but it was a kindergarten compared to the Met). If the head of an organisation spending in excess of $320 million a year with a staff of 3,200 employees feels unable to take more than one or two days off at any one time, there is a serious deficiency in his understanding and practice of the art of delegation. Equally there has to be a serious deficiency in the way in which he runs the organisation – but then that has been discussed many times before!

  • Una says:

    I fear this is by far a much more complex issue than anyone is addressing, although I respect if some of use are actually working for Peter Gelb or on the Board of the Met, and so have inside information I simply do not have in England. But you can’t always simply delegate, even when you know you should and know how, if the people around you are just not up to the job. Either way it is just not an easy job, and so easy to be backseat administrators ourselves, thinking we have the right solution and ability to fire someone. Everyone here had the solution for John Berry at ENO and endless character assassination.

    • Nick says:

      The issue of complexity is immaterial, with respect. Every major company is a complex operation. If the man at the top believes he is so essential that he cannot be away for more than 2 days at a time, then he is part of the problem. How long has he been in the job? If the people under him are not up to their jobs, then he bears total responsibility for that and they should be fired and replaced. Gelb is clearly a micro-manager in a job that requires a far more macro perspective, given all the problems the Met faces – more than a few due entirely to his mismanagement. No-one needs to be a backseat administrator to realise that!

  • Dave T says:

    With all his many duties how does the man find time for the coven gatherings, summoning famine and drought, and human sacrifice? It’s a wonder he still has time to travel at all.

  • OperaGene says:

    Not getting out much is the same as being in a bubble. If he really wants to understand what is going on in opera and how the Met fits within that, getting out more, and not just to the premier opera houses of the world, might help.

    • Alan says:

      Yes. He has NO idea about the world of opera. He is only concerned with the Met and his name. The art form as whole is suffering and he could care less. He has his money train and that’s all he cares about.