Peter Gelb sent begging letter to singers he’d just sacked

Peter Gelb sent begging letter to singers he’d just sacked


norman lebrecht

March 25, 2020

We shared with you a couple of days back the letter from the Met’s general manager requesting ‘urgent gifts’ from patrons to keep the company alive, after he’d refused to pay contracted soloists or any of the musicians in the orchestra and chorus.

Well, tenor Zach Finkelstein reports that he sent the letters to at least six of the soloists he’d sacked.

At least six Met soloists who were recently laid off via Force Majeure, including one who did not receive any communication from the Met and was laid off in a Tweet, confirm receiving the email.

Too late for sensitivity training, I guess.




  • Elaine Calder says:

    The Met commissioned the development of Tessitura and have been using it for years. Surely by now their development staff should be able to filter out artists/employees when sending out solicitations like this.

    • Monsoon says:

      Like all of us, they probably signed up for the Met’s email list with their personal email addresses rather than their work.

      It’s pretty ridiculous that this is being characterized as Gelb intentionally and specifically soliciting Met employees.

  • Guest 123 says:

    Unless you have solutions, NL, then maybe hold back a few stones. The Met cannot float everyone, it’s a tough new reality. And this is why Force Majeure exists.

    Would I do it this way? No. Do I understand why they did it (eg cutting all payments)? Absolutely.

    The short term pain cannot outweigh the future several of the org, if people ever want another pay check.

  • Allen says:

    I once worked as an assistant on a production at the Met. One day not long thereafter I received a phone call from the Met asking for donations. They have a very aggressive fundraising team.

    • Cautious Dem says:

      So Gelb is a Republican??

      • Dan says:

        HAHAHAHAHAHA! Jolly good instincts ! And the union busting law firm “Proskauer Rose” is on retainer, at hundreds of dollars an hour, seen daily in the theater for the tiniest grievance. Mr. Gelb is completely self serving . Off topic, why does the GM at the Kennedy Center make HALF the salary Peter Gelb does ?
        2.4 million at a not for profit? That is “ struggling”?
        Easy to see why. The Board of Directors is not minding the shop! The only major opera house without any artistic consultant on the board either .

    • Former Donors says:

      Between the Met’s abandonment of their “treasured singers”, pity party letter for ONLY themselves and the insightful NPR article, we would just as soon see the Met be investigated by the IRS than donate one more unnecessary penny.

      Their most recent financials bear this out let alone the ones soon to come.

      Let Ann Ziff and the board float the Met since Gelb’s contract was renewed and donors were not approached before these ghastly decisions were made.

    • Larry D says:

      Did you donate?

  • drummerman says:

    Invoking the force majeure clause because of a worldwide pandemic is quite different from being “sacked.” (Take it from a guy who’s been sacked once or twice himself!)

  • The world smallest violin. says:

    Can you imagine the the pair of balls he has on him, to ask people who perform there for a donation? He still doesn’t know that his workforce if the heartbeat of the Met, not his warped artistic vision. His mismanagement has brought the company to it’s present fiscal malignancy. These people cry with a loaf of bread under each arm.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    “Please, sir, I want some more.”

  • CA says:

    It’s bad timing and in view of this terrible situation an awful coincidence/terrible mistake. I can tell you that the best database system in the world is only as good as those who maintain the data. But I can also tell you that it’s not completely unheard of that a hired artist or musician or staff member may even be a contributor at some monetary level. But in this case, had I been in charge of pulling the mailing list, I would have been sure to give instructions to specifically exclude all of those who’ve been dismissed. If those who were laid off want to contribute, I’m pretty sure that they know how to contact the organization in order to do so. Unbelievable, at the end of the day. What I want to say is, “you can’t make this stuff up!” No, it’s not made up, and it’s beyond unfortunate. (These thoughts represent only my opinion.)

  • batonbaton says:

    Gelb really is insensitive at this time of worry and stress for so many people, not just musicians and other employees of the opera house he is somehow fortunate enough to oversee. Such a prize example of a gold-plated ineptitude. Incompetence, we trust.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    These pleas are automated. You cannot sort through a mass mailing. It would cost too much. Just blast it out there and hope to catch a fish or two.

  • fflambeau says:

    The second link in your “story” does not contain any information that supports it.

    The marketing department probably is separate from Mr. Gelb and has their own way of acting.

    I find nothing reprehensible about this.

  • fflambeau says:

    Zach Finkelstein names NO NAMES. Why is that? Can his “report” be taken seriously?

  • Jack Ewing says:

    Butthurt because of an e-mail. That’s snowflakery reaching new levels. It’s a mailing list for gods sakes. The Met won’t remove your name unless you request it. If I were Gelb I’d make another list: of anyone complaining. And make sure that selfish individual never works in opera again.

  • Thinking aloud says:

    I’m not surprised this has happened, I’v had three begging letters from The Met. Two signed by Gelb and one an automated issue.
    I withdrew my support from The Met last year, but still receive appeals for money to support various activities they carry out.
    Once they have your details it appears that they hang on to them, or different departments don’t co ordinate with each other to keep information updated.
    I will not give them a penny while Gelb is in charge. He has been a total disaster as general manager. Has no people skills and knows even less about opera.

  • WillymH says:

    Given the amount of time, according to reports on here, he PERSONALLY spends updating databases, typing letters, signing them, licking stamps, firing singers, plotting the downfall of western civilization, is it any wonder the pigeon dirt in the Plaza hasn’t been cleaned up. Get to it Mr Gelb!

  • Mathias Broucek says:

    I’m not his biggest fan but people are talking as if he personally and deliberately sent these. There must be THOUSANDS of people on the mailing list and no easy way to filter for “singers we had to cancel”.

    Am sad for the singers (many of my friends are freelance musicians) but this is mountain out of molehill stuff

  • Bruce says:

    It happens everywhere. I got a donation request when my orchestra shut down for the season.