Two women watch 200 Met operas

Two women watch 200 Met operas


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2020

The Metropolitan Opera’s publicity department has planted a story in the New York Post about two veteran subscribers, Marion Chalat and Carolyn Starry, who have coped with seven months of Covid by watching Met opera streams every night. The Post gushes that…

So far, according to Met spokesman Michael San Gabino, the series has had an impressive 14.4 million views.

“We were so thrilled that Peter Gelb was offering something to people who had to stay inside mostly,” Starry told The Post. “For those few hours, we can focus on something beautiful.”

In other news, the Met – which is staying shut for 18 months – has refused to pay its musicians since April 1.

Some dysfunction here?



  • Amos says:

    Isn’t this the same NY Post that publishes stories based on Russian GRU -derived info that is so fraudulent that the Post writer refuses to have his name on the by-line? If I was running the MET that’s the publication I’d want on my side.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      They should behave like Facebook and Twitter, rapidly resembling the Central News Agency of Beijing for suppressing any negative stories about Joe Biden and preaching just the one Leftist party line.

      • Couperin says:

        Biden is, relatively, a conservative. It’s hilarious how desperate the losing Trumpers are in trying to say Biden is a leftie. He’s a total centrist! Trump’s version of conservatism is, relatively, totalitarianism. The NYPost nowadays is, relatively, a sensationalist muckraking tabloid. Ever actually read a print version? On the third or fourth page of every issue you can count on a full page color photo of a big-and/or-fake-breasted woman in a bikini. What journalism.

      • Tom Phillips says:

        You mean the same Facebook that was just caught conspiring in 2017 with right wing forces to deny traffic to Mother Jones and other left-wing (i.e. genuine investigative reporting) web sites? The Facebook (and Twitter) that has continually buckled under to Trump and his intimidating fascist tactics, even hiring a right-wing activist to make its newsfeed more focused in that direction. THAT Facebook? Nothing but 100% conformity with your ideology ever satisfies you far right wingers.

    • GCMP says:

      And your proof it is fraud?

      • NYMike says:

        Many GOP-led and FBI investigations of this story have led to the conclusion that this is a big nothingburger. In other words, recycled garbage.

      • Amos says:

        Verified analysis from every US intelligence in the current government. As well as the id of the Russian agent who met with rudy and pedaled this garbage.

  • Anon says:

    The mission of an arts organization is to provide arts to the public, not to pay musicians per se. The Met is fulfilling it’s mission. The Met is not an employment agency.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      The Met is an employment agency for its admin staff. Not for artists or musicians.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Nonsense. Please explain, if you can.

      • M. Wolhust says:

        You got that right honey!

        Your piece on the met vs affording to live just in nyc really hit home the other day.

        Singers along with our wonderful colleagues have been moving out of pricey NYC and filing for personal bankruptcy along with their colleagues. Some are using the moratorium on rent payments to strategically move out before December 31. They had to start living off of credit cards and relatives like a lot of people. We are independent contractors so there is no unemployment benefit to qualify for.

        Younger singers are feeling destroyed. Many have begun turning away from opera to find a more stable work environment that pays the bills. What’s everyone supposed to do while watching NY stagnate, wait for Cuomo and Gelb to get their act together and man up?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Your comment leaves me absolutely speechless.

    • Anon says:

      As another frequent contributor who uses the handle “Anon”, I would like to clarify that this is not me. Not saying the comment isn’t true, but it’s a brutal observation.

    • Rick Whilloughby says:

      By your rationale, they deserve to have all federal support ceased along with revoking their tax status.

      I support that.

      They maliciously stopped paying employees and broke performer’s contracts like any other business.

      Glad the IRS is auditing them along with their donors.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        From your mouth to God’s ears, but what confirmation do you have that the IRS (or morning importantly, the NYS Charities Bureau)?

    • William Safford says:

      The choice not to pay the musicians may very well impede the future ability of the organization to provide arts to the public to its previously high standard, due to attrition, assuming that it survives intact from this pandemic.

      Then again, the choice to pay the musicians could possibly impede the future ability of the organization to provide any arts to the public, due to bankruptcy and foreclosure.

      There is no easy answer.

      • Shudder the Met says:

        If this business is either no longer able or refuses to pay its obligations in the form of employees, contracted singers and the like then it should clearly file for bankruptcy.

        The building along with the rest of Lincoln Center is closed and a barrier wall has been erected to block vagrants and rioters from burning, looting and murdering anybody who may create problems.

        This article focuses on older, white folks (the sole supporting group) watching operas of past glory anyway. No other demographic seems to be reliable while older people are both dying off and afraid of COVID as they are most susceptible to it.

        Their best days are long gone. Those videos are wonderful going back to the 60’s-90’s but that’s it. No legitimately great voices since then per multiple critics including Norman, Opera magazine and of course the NYT. Time to let go with no way to facilitate live performances or pay people what they’re worth.

        The buildings should be razed and affordable housing put up the way folks are having to abandon the city. It’s been overpriced for some time but with shops and restaurants either closed for good or restricted along with entertainment venues there’s no reason to keep it around. Hotels are in the same boat which makes the Met unsustainable at this point.

        It’s sad but that’s life folks!

        • Wanda OBrien-Trefil says:

          You are wrong! There is a whole new wave of extraordinary singers whose careers have been interrupted by Covid. These are the recent competition winners and graduates from opera companies young artist programs. And there is a whole wave of audience members wanting to hear them. You are also wrong about the MetOpera’s live stream videos. They are current, from 2019 and 2020 productions until the Met closed. The productions are top quality, often spectacular and competitive with Broadway theater. The Met has made a huge contribution to society by enlivening our lockdowns with entertainment and beauty. In the process they have picked up many donors and fans.

  • Robin Worth says:

    The Met (and Gelb) deserve credit for giving the world a free opera stream every day since March, with a 23 hour window in which to watch it. Which other house has provided anything remotely comparable? Admittedly, no other house has so much in the archives, and the quality of the offer varies -you can see how much better the recording has become in later years-but good for the Met anyway.

  • gabe says:

    however much one dislikes gelb, don’t forget that he has volunteered not to be paid during the length of the pandemic. he probably didn’t “bank” on it lasting as long as it has, though…

  • Summersnow says:

    Call me naive, but I believe that the Met’s decision to provide the daily stream (and I am getting close to the 200 mark myself) may just be the thing that saves opera as an art form. Putting aside the very real concern for the immediate livelihood of everyone in the arts community, in the post-pandemic world there will be little space for an art that is viewed as so elitist only those in a handful of cities can be regular patrons. I consider this a little bit of marketing genius by Gelb, et al, as well as a very nice gift in a very hard time.