Peter Gelb gets bragging rights in Moscow

Peter Gelb gets bragging rights in Moscow


norman lebrecht

January 14, 2018

The beleaguered general manager of the Metropolitan Opera – falling attendances, low donations – has given an interview to a Russian journalist in which he claims credit for eleven years of unfaltering success.


Many years ago I worked with Sony Music. And one day in Hollywood I met with the head of Sony Pictures. And they had before this several cash failures in a row. And he then told me that now we have a new policy in the company – no longer making films with a sad ending.

In my opinion, this is an example of how absurd it is to go in pursuit of commercial success. I think the responsibility of the theater is not only to arouse the desire of the public to be surprised, but also to stimulate its interest in learning.

The main thing is to give the viewer not what he thinks he wants to get, but what he does not realise he needs. Ultimately he will like it (Google Translate).

And one more:

When I became general manager of the “Met”, I immediately told the Board of Trustees that I would not execute their orders for performances. And so far I’ve never performed them. The board has the right to support my activities or to fire me. But I do not accept creative instructions from them.

As for the business and finance of the theater, then, of course, I must prove to the board that I will bear financial responsibility. But for the “Met”, in my opinion, it would be much more dangerous for the board to have the right to make artistic decisions.

If you recall the story of “Met”, the person in my post has always been a strong artistic leader. Although there were sad, instructive exceptions.


Full interview here (in Russian).



  • Bruce says:

    If you recall the story of “Met”, the person in my post has always been a strong artistic leader. Although there were sad, instructive exceptions.

    Mmm hmm…

  • Tiredofitall says:

    At least Peter is smart enough not to try any longer to peddle his brand of nonsense to a New York audience. We’ve seen the results. He has managed to “bear” the financial reponsibilities of the Met by not accepting the results. “Eleven years of unfaltering success” and at this point, not many people care.

  • Brian B says:

    We have to destroy Sony Classics in order to save it…especially Masterworks Heritage.

  • Kundry says:

    When Peter Gelb leaves and we find out the real extent of his financial management incompetence – i.e. the real size of the debt ( worthless bonds and Chagall paintings debacle included) and the untenable provisions of the Union contracts related to the financial box office and fund raising projections, everyone will also be amazed at the stupidity of the Board , who left this disaster continue for too many years. We already know the artistic problems , the failure of the HD telecasts project and the dismal box office results. As a final “gift” from Mme. Demarest , we will be left with the sophomoric conducting of MessYanick. Maybe Mr.Gelb can get a job at the Bolshoi:)?

    • Mr. Schwa says:

      Gelb should be ashamed kissing up to Putin. Sickening. Enough with the Russian connection. Bad enough to still have Gergiev and his dereliction-of-duty conducting, which a great many if the musicians know is vastly overrated. Nezet-Seguin is talented, but what Gelb wanted was a MD he can control and also save salary money on. Personal scandals aside, Yannick ain’t no Jimmy. Gelb is a musical ignoramus who doesn’t know the names, tessitura, etc. if even very standard arias. Poor judge of voices. His sycophantic board doesn’t know what’s going on either. Too bad, because the Met is capable of being the best.

      • Mark says:

        @Kundry & Mr. Schwa – you are absolutely right re: Yannick. I’ve attended a number of his concerts at Carnegie Hall and heard at least 5 operas he conducted at the Met.
        He is mostly OK in the symphonic repertoire, but his opera work has been disappointing – too fast and no attention to detail. He tends to drag his singers along instead of supporting them. Yeah, he is no Jimmy …

  • Sanda Schuldmann says:

    Wouldn’t be a great idea for Mr. Gelb to leave the MET to take a job in RUSSIA? GO TO MOSCOW or KIEV or anywhere, just get out of the MET