Now the Met faces pay cuts and staff losses

Now the Met faces pay cuts and staff losses


norman lebrecht

September 23, 2020

‘One of the things that we have to mind going forward is a way with our unionized employees, new economic arrangements that the company can afford going forward.’

This statement by Peter Gelb can only mean one thing – deep pay cuts for musicians and backstage staff, plus some job losses elsewhere in the company.

Other consequences of the year-long Met shutdown, announced today, will be a loss of talent for the next couple of years. People will make other plans. Since the Met has toploaded its 21-22 season with non-central repertoire, world stars will be hard to entice back.

The Met will need to grow its own.



  • It’s all happy camping says:

    The first priority of course is how to keep their singers, chorus, players, back of house employees financially solvent in order to respect their staff. Nobody else is helping them in EXPENSIVE NYC, are they???

    There’s always their diverse financial portfolio to utilize along with their most recent gala fundraiser.

    How much did the emergency gala bring in again???

    The people can easily be taken care of with the MET’s liquidation of some domestic and foreign stocks, bonds and assets.

    Some Arab or Chinese guy can simply buy ‘em out like they have the rest of NYC unless Wall Street were to step in.

    They could always sell or donate Lincoln Center back to NYC and make it affordable, public housing as it once was a la San Juan Hill. They could even pay reparations with that kind of money to both blacks and Indians!

  • Herr Doktor says:

    When some unionized stagehands are making $200,000 – $500,000 a year, something has to give. I think what Gelb is saying is that the times make it necessary to address that reality. I’m fully pro-labor, but union salaries in this range are an abuse that has to be corrected at a time when economic calamity is upon us.

    • Money talks says:

      You’re not educated in the extreme financial demands of living in New York City.

      Go google the cost of a modest, single bedroom apartment within 50mi of the Met.

  • Alexa says:

    The best musicians can move to Europe. Here are plenty of theatres and they are open now even with some restrictions.

  • MSC says:

    “Going forward” twice in one sentence? The man is an ignoramus as well as a fool.

    • SBrunton says:

      Yeah, that’s become an almost unavoidable bit of blather. What other direction is there, temporally speaking? Unless Gelb has a time machine, in which case he should use it to undo hiring Nezet-Seguin and paying for Lepage’s machine.

  • former orchdork says:

    Absolutely dreadful.

  • Smeat75 says:

    And yet home grown stars Michael Fabiano, Joyce di Donato and Lisette Oropesa do not feature at all in the 21-22 season, according to the press release.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’d say that a cultural demographic willing to forego all this to save (primarily) senior citizens are demonstrating love of biblical proportions. Let’s hope the demeanour can remain charitable after the full costs are counted.

  • simon says:

    cut yannick, who seems as every bit as boring and flat as peter gelb, and who wont be needed for a while. the met need never worry (if the world recovers) about having a conductor who wants to fill his (or gelbs’) position, even at half salary or less.

    • Alexa says:

      Yannick doesnt deserve his salary. He deserves 50% at maximum. Met can uses his salsry to help artists and other emplyee. Hope he is smart enought to decline his salary as he doesnt work now.

  • fflambeau says:

    I don’t think the Met will be hurt by this at all. Remember the hand-wringing a few years ago when people thought James Levine would bring down the Met? It didn’t happen.

  • MacroV says:

    What are you talking about? Virtually every opera company will be dark next season. It’s going to have negative consequences throughout the industry, but why would it hit the MET harder than anyone else? Seems like more click-bait.

    • Alexa says:

      You are wrong. Not every opera company will be dark next season. European theatres are open right now in Vienna, Milan, Germany, Russian and so on. There are about 50-70% of seats and specifc rules (like no “bravo” in Vienna), but they are open.

    • Opera guy says:

      You obviously don’t know much about how other opera houses and theaters are doing outside of your bubble…

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Peter very well may be referring to antiquated union work rules that have bloated the Met’s budget for decades, with no end in sight. It is a long-needed correction allowing for equitable salaries that may be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put the company on a realistic fiscal path. A more streamlined organization has to mirror a very probable much-reduced audience and reduced charitable resources.

    As for the Met “growing its own”, while it is an international house, for many years its casting policy has not been equitable to American singers, especially in secondary roles (including covers) which have largely gone to more affordable Eastern European singers. Just as during WWII, new policies may uncover and promote a new generation of American talent. Would we otherwise have had the likes of Eleanor Steber, Dorothy Kirsten, Helen Traubel, Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker, Leonard Warren and Robert Merrill? Current American major artists (Fleming, Radvanovsky, Oropesa, etc.) have not been ignored, but few have been as showcased as their European counterparts.

  • Leon says:

    But, to have Yannick conduct the opening night for that corny jazz? Why not find an African American trans conductor, as it surely ain’t that hard for that level of “music”. Wish they moved up the production specially commissioned by the Met of The Hours with Renee Fleming, Joyce to glamorously reopen the Met instead of that token racial gesture.

  • caranome says:

    Opera as a whole, & the Met in particular, needs to be “reimagined”. The economic model simply is no longer sustainable. Since demand won’t change, ticket prices can’t go any higher, other revenue are minimal, there is no gov’t subsidy, and donors are tapped out, the only part that moves the dial is cost. The biggest part of that is the entrenched & bloated work rules and payments for all union musicians, choristers and stage workers. The days of $200-400,000 (with overtime etc.) choristers and stage workers are over. Cuts for execs need to be made accordingly also. The trough can no longer feed all the piggies as much as they are used to eat. There will be a huge and prolonged fight to settle on a new viable model. It’s hard to imagine now, but I would not be totally surprised if Met declares Chp. 11 in a year or three to force a totally clean slate against its unions.

  • allen says:

    Just read the statement by the Met Orchestra. A sad situation, but the beloved Met is bleeding money! Greenbacks won’t fall from the heavens. Perhaps they can try to go after James Levine for the undeserved 2.5 mil that he somehow wrangled out of that joke of a lawsuit and split it amongst themselves.