When an Englishman (briefly) ruled the Met

When an Englishman (briefly) ruled the Met


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2019

In 1989, an Englishman called Hugh Southern was appointed general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. He was generally thought to be cordial and capable, but James Levine, who had not been consulted about his appointment, demanded his dismissal. In June 1990, after just seven months in the job, Hugh Southern was fired by the board.

Southern, who died last week aged 87, went back to doing more worthwhile things. He will be remembered as the creator of the TKTS Booth in New York City’s Time’s Square, inaugurating the sale of last-minute cheap tickets.

Read his death notice here.



  • olivia nordstadt says:

    actually, an Englishman headed the met for quite a long period, his name was Rudolf bing (eventually sir Rudolf bing); he started his theatrical career on the continent but made his name helping to run and eventually running the festivals at Glyndebourne and Edinburgh; it was those two positions that paved his way to a 22-year career at the met; as to mr. southern, he was a total cipher in his brief and thoroughly undistinguished tenure; the met board always liked someone aristocratic with a foreign accent, I suppose he checked all the right boxes

    • Henry Rosen says:

      Rudolph Bing was from Austria

      • BrianB says:

        He was a naturalized British citizen from 1946. That makes him, regardless of origin, and Englishman. In spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations, he remained an Englishman.

      • Novagerio says:

        Exactly. Rudolf Franz Joseph Bing was viennese, bred in Darmstadt under Karl Böhm and Carl Ebert, he was naturilised british citizen in 1946, and was next to Ebert co-founder of the Glyndebourne Festival and also the Edinburgh festival, until his arrival to the US in 1949.

  • Laurence says:

    Once upon a time, whatever Jimmy Levine wanted, Jimmy got, and the board rolled submissively over…

  • Tiredofitall says:

    It is facile at this point to lay everything at the feet of James Levine. There is much more to this particular story. Out of respect for the deceased, now is not the time for it to be recounted.

  • fflambeau says:

    It’s funny that his legacy appears to be the sale of cheap, last minute tickets. Ouch!