Stand by: The Met trembles on brink of blackout

Stand by: The Met trembles on brink of blackout


norman lebrecht

September 23, 2020

Word on the street is that the Metropolitan Opera, shut since the start of Covid, is about to cancel its spring 2021 season. An announcement is expected today or tomorrow.

Covid safety aside, Peter Gelb has many reasons to maintain closure, not least that many of his major donors have fled to Florida or the Hamptons and won’t be back in town until the pandemic has gone. Also, some singers are reluctant to fly.

Getting the bad Levine news out of the way yesterday was necessary before the company delivered its next dollop of gloom.



  • sam says:

    Levine managed to jump off the burning plane with a golden parachute.

    He wouldn’t have gotten paid if the Met had actually kept him around.

    Son of a bitch. Outsmarted Gelb and the Board. Again.

    • AB says:

      Yes, Levine was able to leave with a hefty settlement, but keeping him around any longer would have caused irreparable damage to the trust and image of the Met. The reason he got paid was due to the Met keeping him around so long, to the point that it appeared they were complicit in his schemes, or at the very least, chose to turn a blind eye to Levine’s behavior.

    • Monsoon says:

      I find it remarkable how people speak with such certainty without bothering to check the facts.

      From the NYT on the settlement:

      “In his suit, Mr. Levine had sought $3.4 million for breach of contract after the Met stopped paying his $400,000-a-year salary as music director emeritus, just a year and a half into a 10-year agreement. He also sought more than $1.6 million for the remaining performances he had expected to conduct during the season he was fired and the season following, as well as $707,500 for defamation; he argued that the Met’s statements about him led other orchestras to fire him and cost him a book project. And he sought other, unspecified amounts for defamation, pain and suffering, and attorney’s fees.”

      So if the Met didn’t fire him and just never had him conduct another concert, they’d still would have had to pay him $400,000/year for 8 years, plus $200k for the half year or $3.4 million total.

      So with a $3.5 million dollar settlement, Gelb basically paid out the contract and avoided the $1.6 million for the booked concerts and the other random damages.

    • Craig Durant says:

      The numerous young, male victims are clearly more important sam.

  • anon says:

    “some singers are reluctant to fly”

    And some (*cough* Netrebko) can’t.

    • Get well Anna says:

      Which do you pathologically enjoy more anon?

      That she got sick to assert your petty ego or that venues like the Met don’t have her star power to use to sell tickets??

    • M says:

      Huh, she just started her voice back up yesterday. Just like a bad flu it’ll probably take a month to be in top condition just like any athlete after a bad flu/illness.

      • mark says:

        Covid attacks the lungs, not the voice, hope she has an excellent pulmonologist on her medical team, recovery will be long slow and delicate.

  • Poor MET and NY.. says:

    Three components of The MET’s demise must be addressed. We collectively say demise as the whole of Lincoln Center remains shuddered with a barrier wall in front of it beginning at the steps up to the fountain. Walls work!

    First off, The MET chose NOT to support its treasured singers, chorus, players, crew, etc. Instead Gelb held a self-serving fundraising gala with NO PROCEEDS going to artists after raising several millions of dollars. The chorus was left to begging via YouTube as they embodied va pensiero… Since then many artists and staff have fallen into poverty with NO journalistic acknowledgement or patron help.

    Second, “not least that many of his major donors have fled to Florida or the Hamptons and won’t be back in town until the pandemic has gone.” That’s “IF” they ever come back. Democrat policies like Gov. Cuomo’s wanton “Tax the rich” is assuring most of these donors have abandoned NY for red states which are less avaricious for good. Cuomo recently BEGGED the rich to “come back to NY, I’ll COOK”!!! (whaling away in mental distress as usual). Then there’s Mayor DeBlasio’s UWS destruction bringing in sex offenders, addicts and homeless to hotels. The petrified Liberals there fled in DROVES and sued the city since they can’t handle their own policies in their own neighborhoods. Whenever both Cuomo’s grandiose “Stage 4” FINALLY includes auditoriums for opera, ballet, broadway, etc and the garbage “incidental music” edict ends, most artists and workers sadly won’t be around anymore.

    Third, “Also, some singers are reluctant to fly.” which is one aspect. It is equally critical to note that an ever-changing list Gov. Cuomo has PROHIBITS travelers from various States and Countries which leaves places like The MET cut off from the talent it depends upon to draw box office.

    For those hating the facts and shortcomings brought about by the left, don’t bother complaining as usual. It’s clearly too late! Your SOLUTIONS as to how to bring NY and The MET back from the abyss are all anyone is interested in. It’s Cuomo’s and DeBlasio’s responsibility, they’re in control before The MET can plan anything.

    • NY is wasting away says:

      The second comment certainly rings true

      Here’s Cuomo’s own takes last month and in late July on the “White Flight” NYC is suffering from one of his own news conferences and via Bloomberg respectively..

    • PaulD says:

      I would only add to your comment that rising street crime caused by De Blasio’s and Cuomo’s policies is another factor that will discourage people go from going to New York.

      • AstoriaEd says:

        “rising street crime caused by De Blasio’s and Cuomo’s policies” is a fox news alternative reality to paralyze their viewers wth fear and gin up ratings. I love in NYC…it’s not burning and it’s just as safe now as it was a year ago. Fox News is literally fake news.

        • PaulD says:

          Not according to business leaders, per the Wall Street Journal on September 11:

          “More than 160 business leaders, including executives at Citigroup Inc., Mastercard Inc. and Nasdaq Inc., have signed a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio warning of New York City’s deteriorating condition in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and growing anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality-of-life issues.”

          “For the four-week period that ended Sunday, the city recorded 55 homicides, up 49% from 37 in the same period last year, according to NYPD data. The city also had 222 shooting incidents during those four weeks, more than double the 90 shootings a year earlier.

          “We need to send a strong, consistent message that our employees, customers, clients and visitors will be coming back to a safe and healthy work environment,” the business leaders’ letter said. “People will be slow to return unless their concerns about security and the livability of our communities are addressed quickly and with respect and fairness for our city’s diverse populations.”

        • Try mainstream, LOCAL news!! says:

          You don’t get NBC New York in your little fiefdom AstoriaEd??

          • AstoriaEd says:

            In my ‘little fiefdom’, PA neighborhood in the most diverse county in the country, there has not been any riots, buildings burned to the ground or any other sensational Fox News calamity. It’s scare tactics being promulgated by the propaganda arm of the Trump regime. Fear is all they have to run on because they haven’t accomplished anything positive in 4 years.

      • MacroV says:

        Yes, New York is such a hellscape right now. Get out much?

    • Couperin says:

      White flight? Good riddance! I’m buying an apartment in Jackson Heights where it’s civilized.

    • NYMike says:

      “Democrat policies” have kept us New Yorkers freer from Covid than anywhere else in the US. Opening up venues prematurely elsewhere has proved to be disastrous.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Maybe we should look closer to home. At least the MET has offered nightly access to its output whereas ROH has been alarmingly silent about what is going on or more accurately not going on and access to its output has been mostly conspicuous by its absence. As European houses at least open up and the MET continues to find a way to keep itself in the public eye the lights in Bow St remain distinctly dark and even though they are no doubt still receiving oodles of money to keep going, doing exactly what remaining a mystery, the sound of silence is deafening.

  • Monsoon says:

    I don’t understand the assertion that the MET has “many reasons to maintain closure.” The longer they’re closed the more longterm damage is done to the organization. If the MET could reopen but not with a full house and not the biggest stars, I’m sure they still would.

    • Lieman says:

      You don’t understand that it’s financially better that they don’t open to avoid any legal actions if someone were to get COVID.

  • Eyal Braun says:

    With winter and Influenza season is nearing, I can’t see much chance that the MET can re- open before April. Same with the Royal Opera house: So this is a very logical step . I fear that the combination of already raising number of COVID cases in Europe with the start of Influenza season will force opera houses in these countries to close as well.

  • M2N2K says:

    The least surprising “news” of the century.

  • Tamara Knight says:

    Those excess deaths in US says it all. The question is will the redneck wallys still vote Trump in instead of the auld fella with Alzheimer’s? A real Hobson’s choice.