More names emerge from Peter Gelb’s massacre at the Met

More names emerge from Peter Gelb’s massacre at the Met


norman lebrecht

September 29, 2017

Peter Gelb now admits to sacking 21 people on Wednesday, although his original list, seen by our informants, runs to 50. There may be more to come.

Most of the victims, if not all, are loyal and veteran staff who have given their lives to the Met. We have been informed of some of the names and publish them below.

First, here’s Gelb’s letter to staff, provoked by the Slipped Disc disclosures.

Dear Members of the Company,

As you know, the Met continues to face economic challenges as it copes with the changing environment for presenting opera.  As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce costs, we have offered 21 members of the administrative staff the possibility of participating in a voluntary retirement program, which includes supplemental financial benefits.  I appreciate your concerns and hope for your understanding that we are looking out for the long term fiscal health of our beloved institution.


Peter Gelb

Here are some of those who are being pushed out the door:

Gary Feinstein     Director, Subscriptions & Special Services

Mary-Lynn Musco    Associate Director, Subscriptions & Special Services

Susan Hayes        Director, Customer Care

That’s the entire department of Customer Care and Donor Relations

Annmarie Hackett    Director, Human Resources and Labor Relations

Human Resource Manager (Michele Rufrano or Frank DiMaiolo or both)

Production Director (Marketing)

Associate House Manager

and three Payroll Assistants (out of a department of 6)

In addition, we hear that James Levine’s personal assistant Ken Hunt and the ballet administrator Joe Fritz are among the casualties.

Where will the buck stop next?

UPDATE: What’s left to cut?



  • Boris Sanchez says:

    So basically, reading the names above, the Met has gotten rid of its entire subscription department, which in itself (besides the budget slashing and firing 10% of its staff) is huge because it means the Met is throwing in the flag when it comes to subscriptions, which was previously the life blood of any non-profit arts organization in the US. This means the Met basically plans to rely solely on single ticket sales, which is unbelievably risky (lets look at the volume of single tickets available for the season premiere of La Boheme in 72 hours: to see how risky this new strategy is)

    It has been clear that the subscription numbers have been down at the Met (something that the NYTimes should have been investigating all these years), but I guess the subscription model has basically died under the Gelb regime.

    • Nick says:

      I agree with the conclusion, but surely Met subscriptions still account for a reasonably large percentage of sales. They may be significantly down, but it’s unlikely that is the responsibility of the subscription department. Subscribers like a known voice even just at the end of a phone. Decimating the department sounds like madness and a recipe for further sales’ declines.

      I have no idea what the precise duties of a Production Director (Marketing) are, but the Met clearly needs all the help it can get in terms of PR and Marketing. Innovative, creative marketing will be vital in maintaining to say nothing of improving audience numbers. One wonders if those who are left are as old-school as what appear to be much of the rest of the House’s attitudes.

      • Edgar says:

        Old school. Indeed. Thrrein lies the Met’s undoing. Incompetent board and general director, falling musical standards, etc. Sndris Nelsons recently told the Bodton Globe: “I don’t understand that opera house.” Not “the Met”, but “that opera house”. That says it all.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Bears repeating: The situation is far worse than acknowledged, what with the disappearance of stars, vocal stars at that, of important voices and artists. The elephant in the room. Of course, the burden of the collapse of important artists and voices does not rest on Gelb’s shoulders. Little to nothing the man (or any other intendant) can do to quell the epidemic.

  • Despina says:

    It’s likely the positions will be filled again perhaps reorganized into a different department and with lower salaries.

    The NYTimes did a similar offering a few years ago .. and it’s often done at companies. Offer incentives to leave to long term employees at higher salaries and then rehire at much lower salaries,

  • herrera says:

    It is ethical or necessary to name the names of those fired?

    It’s getting to be prurient.

  • Disappointed Opera Fan says:

    Peter Gelb is a disgrace. The board needs to wake up and realize he’s not the man to run this beloved organization.

    His staff selection was personal. It had nothing to do with those “eligible” for retirement. There were plenty of administrative staff members that fit the criteria, yet were not selected. He personally targeted these people that gave their heart and soul to the organization. For what reason?

    The Met can save a few million by ditching him and his sidekick of a “co-general manager.”

  • John Porter says:

    The Met’s customer care already sucks and many of their seats are broken. One has to really begin to wonder whether this is a real, palpable decline. And, in all fairness, who could really expect them to sell a house that size, with tickets at those prices, that many nights a week in a season? Oddly enough, I view their percentage of seats sold as a sort of miracle, all things considered.

    So, what we may have here, is just another step toward the right sizing that will have to occur, sooner rather later. They will have to find another model, particularly around just how many seats can be sold for any given program, along a given season. Perhaps they will need a different house or cut their season by one-third. Perhaps they will need to close the upper balcony and make it into a big lounge where the hipsters can watch the show via HD and drink martinis. Maybe Hamilton can perform there in place of a few productions. One way or the other, it’s hard to imagine things are going to reverse direction to the past.

    Fasten your seatbelts.

  • metopera14 says:

    The current GM is deliberately destroying the institutional culture of the house in an attempt to make his shortcomings less obvious to himself at the very least. The board is no less complicit. These people mentioned are the backbone of the MET! They are OUTSTANDING MEMBERS OF THE COMPANY! Genocide.
    From directors that have no passion or knowledge of the art form to recent lower staff hirings that think that the MET produces “product”. WHAT IS LACKING IS EFFECTIVE / INSPIRING LEADERSHIP! The instutitional knowledge and talent that these current EXCEPTIONAL MET MANAGERS have will not reach the required level in the next 10 years. SHAME,SHAME, SHAME.

  • Sebastian Petit says:

    ditching Levine entirely would save quite a few $$$…

  • Ed Perretti says:

    How about getting rid of Peter Gelb and his salary. I would be happy to take his place for a much much less negotiated salary , re hire all of those people and with my ideas have the Met restored to its former glory!

  • Sic semper tyrannis says:

    Monstrous mismanagement, along with Gelb‘s continuing Stalinistic attempt to wipe out the institutional memories of the glorious days of the Volpe/Levine era. When the former Chairman of the Board, Louise Ireland Humphrey, died in 2012, Gelb neither acknowledged her passing nor sent any condolences to her family. Mrs. Humphrey almost singlehandedly saved the Met from disastrous bankruptcy after the 1980-1981 labor strife and cancelled season. Gelb is a worthy Trump-age successor—midget following giants—to Joseph Volpe and Rudolf Bing…He will ultimately reap what he has sown, but unfortunately, it appears that he is going to destroy one of our country’s great artistic institutions in the process of his (not-soon-enough) self-immolation. Loathsome and despicable.

  • Ada says:

    Gelb is destroying Met and above all art in total. He should be the person to be fired and if he things firing these employees who gave their heart and soul to Met, he is of course out of his mind. What needs to me reduce is his Salery which is reaching $milions

    • Norma Kramer says:

      I have been told that although Peter Gelb lives at 20 West 64 St. which is directly across from Lincoln Center he still hires a limo to drive him to the MET ! How much money is this inexcusable arrogance costing the MET and why is it permitted ?

  • Jules says:

    Interesting that Gelb cut the HR department. Now anyone with a complaint has nowhere to go.

  • AD says:

    If you don’t satisfy customers expectation and only think about money, you fail in the fund raising.

  • Charles Fischbein says:

    From the day Gelb took over as GM I dropped my season subscription.
    While the Board members might have been born with silver spoons like Gelb, the Met nerds a GM like Joseph Volpe who knew opera from making sets to signing talent and working well with unions.
    Gelb has had horrible relationships with most staff and unions and lost the good will of many long time Met subscribers.
    Yes I still travel to the Met several times a year but I would not ever package a subscription to some of the Euro Trash productions Gelb seems to be drawn to.
    A fish rots from the head down Mr. Gelb and you are the head