The Met is killing its orchestra. Why can’t the NY Times report it?

The Met is killing its orchestra. Why can’t the NY Times report it?


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2021

Under the headline ‘Its Musicians are out of Work but the Met is Streaming’, the carefully understated New York Times reviews Anna Netrebko’s streamed recital from Vienna.

Anthony Tommasini’s review acknowledges the parlous situation of musicians in the Met’s orchestra. He writes: ‘It was hard not to think about what was missing this time: the Met’s musicians. Since the end of March, the unionized orchestra and chorus, among other workers, have remained furloughed, with talks between the unions and management at a standstill. Frustrations have been vented on social media over the Met’s decision to stream recitals like Netrebko’s while the company’s house artists remain out of work. (The orchestra is planning its own streaming concert, independent of the Met, on Feb. 21…’

That phrase ‘remained furloughed’ is less than the truth. For the past 11 months, musicians in the Met orchestra have not been paid. The Met is only major US organisation to withhold musician salaries and it does so openly – as Peter Gelb has clearly stated – in order to force the musicians to accept a massive pay cut.

This is both blackmail and starvation. The musicians do not ‘remain furloughed’, as the Times reports. They have no income since March 2020, no means of support. Many have taken other jobs, some in other countries. The Met is killing its orchestra. Why can’t the Times report the plain truth?




  • Nijinsky says:

    And all the rest of them that aren’t lifting a finger, although any self promoting cowardliness they’d jump at spring loaded.

    Renee Fleming, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Angela Gheorghiu…

    • PB says:

      Fabiano and Leonard had some strong words of support to the musicians. Gheorghiu had a very strong statement in support of the Met orchestra and chorus just a few days ago and is actually performing a couple of pieces “virtually” with the Met Orchestra soon, with all the earnings going to the musicians who have been furloughed without payment since March.
      But all the other “stars” are silent, making money from a house that does not pay the people who are employed there – ludicrous!

    • Scott says:

      Don’t worry. They have a Chief Diversity Officer. Everything will be okay.

      • black identifying feminist says:

        “This is both blackmail and starvation.” How melodramatic indeed!

        Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer will surely set everything right (ok maybe FAR left but still…). Doing away with too many whites from donors to staff is the remedy.

  • J says:

    he is the WORST critic ever, with a vocabulary of meaningless adjectives -‘brilliant’ comes to mind- over and over and over… and that is about it. time to retire tony.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      I think “strapping” is his most-used adjective, especially when there is a new “bari-hunk.”

      • anonyman says:

        Tony T. does have a soft spot for good looking male singers, always commenting on how well cast they are in terms of looks, as “youthful” or “robust” or “dashing” and even “cocky” (no pun intended I hope).

    • John Kelly says:

      A very distinguished musician friend said to me many years ago when Tommasini started his reviews……”he writes well enough, but I don’t think he knows much about music”

      • JS says:

        But Tomassini IS a trained musician. From his Wikipedia page “He graduated from Yale University with a B.A., and subsequently earned both a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University.[2] He won the 1998 Boston University School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award. […] Tommasini taught music at Emerson College in Boston, and led writing workshops at Wesleyan University and Brandeis University”.

        • Patricia says:

          So he collected degrees. He seems never to have been a perfomer. He is a terrible writer. And the NY Times has become a terrible paper. A perfect match.

          • JS says:

            But to collected them, he had to know something about music. As far as I know he worked as singers accompanist – and that’s precisely why he is (over)indulgent with them.

          • Larry D. says:

            Patricia Sonata Form speaks, or rather squeaks.

        • Adagio says:

          No, he’s a trained academic – in order to be a musician he would need to be a skilled instrumentalist or singer, which he has yet to admit he isn’t.

    • Fliszt says:

      He’s also worked “magisterial” into the ground.

    • Larry D. says:

      You mean as opposed to YOUR scintillating vocabulary, such as “WORST critic ever”?

  • PoorMusician says:

    I posted this in the other MET thread but I was kind of late to the party, so maybe someone can clarify this for me?:

    “1500$/week is almost twice what I make playing in a Germany category A orchestra.
    And apparentely those 1500$ would be a “drastic reduction”…

    So how much does a MET musician actually make?”

    • Tamino says:

      at least three times as much, or more for certain solo positions. IIRC.
      They pay their top league orchestra musicians in the US very well. But have very few orchestras. In Germany or Austria the orchestra landscape is like a Pyramid. Wide bottom, getting narrower to the top. In the US it is like an ivory tower. Narrow at the bottom. Narrow at the top. the top of the American Ivory tower being higher than the Central European Pyramid. (salary wise, not quality wise)

    • Joe Exotic says:

      The minimum salaries are above $150k per year. It is arguably the highest paid orchestra in the world. Musicians in the US will often try to justify these types of salaries by explaining the pressures of the job, how “world-class” they are,” and the amount of work they have. Most of them have never worked in Europe and can’t fathom that European organizations might have similar to much larger workloads, are also very much “world-class,” and do not expect to make salaries of the top 10% of the population. The fact that the organizations are held up by contributed money (ie. the generosity of their supporters, on top of their ticket prices) somehow justifies these exorbitant salaries even more.

      The same goes for salaries across the board. The chorus makes over $100k, the handful of lead stage hands make over $250k each, and Peter Gelb normally makes over $1mil. Many of the senior administrative staff make over $100k.

      They will say that living in NYC justifies these high salaries. I say take a look at Paris, London, or Amsterdam.

      • John says:

        And the Met’s pay for the past year has been $0. Perhaps Paris, London, or Amsterdam should take a look at the Met’s salaries and follow their example down the drain.

      • Tom Phillips says:

        The musicians at the Met earn every penny of it. Unlike the often much higher paid stage crew many of whom never went to college got their jobs through family connections and usually come from the same two ethnic groups.

    • IntBaritone says:

      the average salary is around $300K. Weekly that works out to about $6K.

      There are two sides to everything – what the MET is doing is absolutely wrong – they should be doing everything in the realm of possibility to help the people that play for them every night.

      BUT – the musicians, stagehands, and chorus are all overpaid (even based on how high the cost of living is in NYC) so that has to change too.

    • John says:

      The Met is not offering to pay $1500. Rather only $700/week and the rest comes from Government unemployment. If someone goes off unemployment due to teaching (anything over $504 per week removes you from unemployment), and you lose all the money- including the $700. Very divisive way to “pay” the orchestra. All of this after nearly a year without pay.

    • Tony says:

      I have a couple of friends who play at the MET, and their pays pre-covid times ranged from $3000/week to $6000/week and some were solo positions. I think you can’t compare this amount with Euro orchestras because US orchestras play way more, and have much more expenses when it comes to our education tuition costs. It’s a two-way street.

      • Joe Exotic says:

        This is a terribly shoddy argument. US orchestras do not “play way more” (you may be surprised if you count up the average number of work hours per week between both continents), nor should educational cost be a factor, since Europeans can get jobs in US orchestras, and Americans could study in Europe for cheaper and/or many Americans at that level get scholarship for school and pay little to nothing.

    • NYMike says:

      You’re forgetting to include Germany ‘s social safety net and a better quality of life – all of which comes with your job.

    • Dave T says:

      PoorMusician– The $1500 per week (plus health insurance) is while the pandemic is going on, during which time they can sit on their rear ends and not do a damn thing. Pretty good gig, actually.
      Once they are back to actually working they, if management has its way, will see a 15% pay cut. Still a pretty good gig, actually.

  • Musician says:

    Even if The NY Times doesn’t report it, we know the Met musicians are fantastic and deserve better. This is an utter travesty. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me, but it’s upsetting that such a fine group is being crushed by Gelb and the board. There is zero foresight in a strategy that destroys the orchestra.

    • J says:

      completely correct. the met band is well paid, but so is the phil and the phil is going home across the plaza and the met orch is at first intermission. opera is incredibly taxing on the body…. try surviving a meistersinger. one is delirious when those 5 hours have passed.

    • J says:

      i’ll just add that while opera is amazing to play and so inspiring with the right singers… the pit can be cramped, the injuries are more often than in a normal orchestra, the amount of repertoire one has to keep under one’s fingers in immense… revivals have few rehearsals and it is exhausting.

      • John Bakewell says:

        I spent 43 years in the pit at the ROH. We regularly worked 30-40 hours per week in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s for less than 50% of the Met’s pay. I don’t recall it being as taxing as you claim it to be and our pit was much more cramped than the Met.

        • Tom Phillips says:

          The Met Orchestra performs 7 operas per week far more than the ROH so the 50% differential is quite warranted. Not to mention that nowadays – not so true in the 60’s and early 70’s – it is clearly a superior orchestra to that of the ROH, one that regularly performs a wide range of symphonic repertoire at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere.

  • Olassus says:

    “she brings a cool Nordic cast to her sound”


    • BruceB says:

      “Her tendency to sometimes let a note slip off pitch was a bit more prevalent than usual. But I’ve always felt this criticism was a little unfair. Like many singers from Russian and Scandinavian traditions, she brings a cool Nordic cast to her sound and sings whole phrases with focused tone, saving vibrato for bursts of intensity. So even small imperfections of pitch stand out.”

      So I guess he means without a lot of vibrato? I thought it interesting that he contrasted “focused tone” with “vibrato,” as if they don’t really go together.

      The other thing I took away was that poor intonation doesn’t bother him much. Ouch.

  • Ken says:

    I assure you the cost of living is higher in New York than where ever where you live in Germany, even if it’s Munich. Regardless, a comparison between countries/cities/orchestras would be useless for myriad factors.
    The musicians have tried to negotiate in good faith with Gelb and offered realistic, large cuts to salaries. Gelb is exploiting the pandemic to completely destroy their contract permanently through shameful union-busting techniques while every other orchestra in the US has continued its salaries and support for its musicians since April. Temporarily reducing salaries and keeping contracts and working conditions in tact. What Gelb is doing is shameful, illegal and completely unacceptable. This will ultimately be his undoing but unfortunately it make be that of its great orchestra as well.

    • Anon says:

      Could you be so kind as to tell me which orchestras are keeping contracts and working conditions intact?
      Every orchestra I know is looking at a 25-35% (or more) drop, even upon returning to a full schedule.

      • Ken says:

        Every other orchestra I’m familiar with has deals that will return them to pre-pandemic within 1 to 5 seasons of (hopefully) returning in September. Chicago, NY Phil, Boston etc. The MET’s peer orchestras. Non of these administrations are insisting on permanent cuts and/or permanent changes in work regulations, at least that I am aware of.

    • John Kelly says:

      There is simply no endowment or balance sheet that enables the Met to pay everyone while it’s shut. However, I would have thought Gelb should spend his efforts raising money, as other organizations have. The Met truly represents excellence (most of the time), what they do every week of the season juggling numerous productions (granted of varying quality) and hosting over 3000 souls an evening is remarkable. But this all requires money and much more money than they have raised when the s hits the fan as it has. Mr. Gelb, do what CEOs of private companies do – get out there and raise money………..that is the job at present. Get some HUMILITY (hah!) and get on the phone and call Elon Musk or Bezos or Gates or Buffett or whomever and PERSONALLY dial for dollars…..Or let someone else do your job because that’s what your job is mate.

      • Larry D. says:

        Are you privy to Gelb’s phone records, that you know who he is or is not calling? And I suspect people like Musk have little interest whether the Met survives or not. You named all the rich people you know of, and you topped out at the four most obvious that even NYPost readers have heard of, so I hardly think you’re positioned to be giving useful advice.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Absolutely true. However, Gelb’s credibility was flushed long ago. He has absolutely no clout in New York or anywhere else. Gone are the days when a CEO would pickup the phone if Beverly Sills called…and she did, a LOT.

      • Dave T says:

        AFAIK Musk, Bezos, et al. do not have a history of supporting the arts in any meaningful way. They certainly have the means (pun intended) but choose not to. This is the era we live in, not the 1890’s or 1950’s when the country’s richest considered arts support their civic, or at least social, duty.
        Orchestra musicians refuse to acknowledge this, so here we are.

  • E Rand says:

    Because it’s only worthless white people/white culture, western music that perpetuates blah blah and excludes bipocs and whatever blah blah, so who cares!? Amiright? They deserve it, right?

    • True North says:

      That’s not what this situation is about, and you know it, but why miss an opportunity, no matter how tenuous the connection, to rant predictably and tediously about your favourite bugaboo?

      • BruceB says:

        By feeding the trolls you only encourage them… but thank you.

        It’s not hard to see, once you start noticing, that some of the regular commenters on this site never show any interest in music or any other art, and submit comments only when the topic is sociopolitical. It looks like perhaps word has gotten out that, for people of a certain temperament (coughtrollcough), this is a site you can go to and always be fed.

        • E Rand says:

          Well…I am deeply interested in art and particularly, music. But, I was to understand that the purpose of this site was to discuss, among other things, the non-musical aspects of the music business. Normans title asked the question “Why doesn’t the NYSlimes report of the destruction of the Met Orchestra (approximate quote)”. And my answer is that the topic interests them far less than others, and for reasons totally in line with their apparent biases. That remains my opinion.

          • Larry D. says:

            “NYSlimes”? Oh, I see what you did there! You are so endlessly clever! Ayn would have been proud, since she also overflowed with similar wit.

          • E Rand says:

            You have a curious obsession with Rand. I never read Atlas.. I did enjoy Fountainhead, decades ago in middle-school.

          • BruceB says:

            Name-calling is always very convincing and is a super-effective way to bring others around to your point of view.

      • woke says:

        You need to get educated True North.

        The Met just hired a Chief Diversity Officer for more than Biden’s job-killing $15/hr I should think. Try about $300K! Less white people and white subject matter is clearly more important than being the best at anything. Hopefully she (a black woman) will make even the Board and Donors uncomfortable enough to leave. Who needs their offensive white money?!?!?

    • Jack says:


  • Gregory Dean says:

    Tommasini, as all other frequent posters on another blog, are sadly a bunch of people who do not understand too much about opera and opera singers, as their “reigning diva” is the overrated, overhyped Netrebko – it’s really incredible how much things have degraded in opera.
    All these people write stuff like “she was not flawless”, “she was off-pitch” etc and at the same time that she is reigning?? She always gets away with it, even if her performances are very far from being great, and this was always the issue with her.
    She is only reigning at the Met because Gelb was stupid enough to only focus on her and destroy a prestigious house that the Met once was.
    And Tommasini or any other journalist will never write something against Gelb, because of the family’s relationship with The Times… Sad and terrible times we are living in, as the Met is paying a few “stars” and makes (big) money with their online recitals, but nothing at all goes to the Met employees!

    • Jack says:

      And this has what to do with the topic at hand?

    • Larry D. says:

      We are indeed living in “sad and terrible times”, so good of you to notice. But this has little to do with Gelb or Tommasini or Netrebko. There is a bigger picture out there. You remind me of Karl Bohm saying the worst thing about WWII was that the Vienna opera house was bombed

  • Out of work orchestral musician says:

    I have been trying to follow this story, but haven’t stayed totally up-to-date. I’m asking very earnestly… The musicians don’t want to accept a pay cut, and won’t compromise, but are complaining about not being paid? I understand that perhaps I’ve missed something, so I’m not trying to be provocative. In this moment in time, many highly trained musicians and people in other fields have lost their jobs or had to accept big pay cuts. Why are these musicians different in that they won’t compromise? They could be getting paid (albeit less), but don’t want to accept those terms? Again, asking very earnestly. I’m open to hearing the full story, because I genuinely don’t understand based on the information I currently have. Thanks.

    • OperaPass says:

      They won’t compromise because they are having a great PR campaign making Peter Gelb out to be the bad guy. He gave them a great offer to keep being paid, $1500 a week which is quite a bit of money, and they refused outright. So they send their minions to every FB post and berate the MET so the orchestra can get what they want, which is to get Peter Gelb fired. It’s what they have always wanted. After Volpe left, they didn’t have someone giving in to every insane union demand and they definitely don’t like that.

      The union has not in good faith tried to negotiate with the Met at all, which is keeping themselves out of work and out of payment. They only have themselves to blame. Every single musician in Europe and America has had to take major pay cuts, going into the future. They have had to renegotiate contracts, and they have had to work around difficult schedules and they have had to make things work in the era of Covid.

      The Met Orchestra Musicians feel that they are above all of that and they should continue on in their gilded chairs, making the exact same amount of money as if nothing is going on, while they continue to fleece the Metropolitan Opera for every single dollar that their donors are providing. They haven’t even performed since March and they still think they deserve every penny as if they had a full schedule.

      It’s never been about Covid, or payments. It’s to get rid of PG who dares try to bargain with the unions instead of rolling over backwards for them.

      • John says:

        It is a fight for the survival of the Met as anyone knows it. Many musicians have or will leave very soon, decimating the orchestra- filling it with a bunch of people who have never played an opera in their lives. The quality will immediately suffer for the long term. People won’t buy tickets, and they will follow the likes of the other NYC opera houses. Buh-bye.

        • Joe Exotic says:

          This is the epitome of hyperbole. You know, there are plenty of other non-MET musicians out there who have played opera before. In fact, you find a good number of them every time you hold an audition.

          If you are going to argue that the MET will lose its “world-class” status if salaries go down, how about this? If anyone leaves the orchestra because salaries are cut, please make sure to tell whoever fills their chair that they’re simply not world-class because they’re not getting paid as much. In fact, tell all the musicians in every other orchestra that doesn’t get paid as much the same exact thing.

          And for all of those saying you cannot survive in NYC on less than $150k, sure, if you need to live in a doorman building on the Upper West Side.

        • Dave T says:

          John- The musicians will leave and go… where? To one of the other orchestras that is cutting pay under the duress of covid-nomics? To do insurance commercials dubs? To drive an Uber? To open the B&B in New Hampshire that their spouse has always dreamed of?

      • Ken says:

        “Fleece”? The orchestra makes up 6% of the MET’s annual budget. But nice try troll.

      • sabrinensis says:

        One reason salaries at the Met Orch seem high is because it is in NYC. Ever try to live in the greater NY area? It’s COLA all the way. It’s an elite group that has earned every penny they are paid. They shouldn’t accept pay cuts under these circumstances. While doubtless wanting to help the organization get back on its feet, they know that any cuts will never be restored. Both sides are playing the Long Game.

    • Ken says:

      I don’t know the specifics, but I know the musicians have (or would) agreed to enormous cuts. I believe the issue is that Gelb is demanding they not only be permanent but the entire contract is rendered unrecognizable. In any event, after 11 months of starving out the orchestra already, whatever Gelb is insisting on must be brutal for them to continue not to accept.

    • Couperin says:

      To answer very earnestly, I think at this point they’ve come so far, why back down? Also, they are a very self-important opera orchestra who forgot they were an opera orchestra, but Gelb has been disastrous, so why give in?

    • John says:

      If you need more information, go to their website or FB page- loads of information there. From my understanding, it is not about $1500. The Met is offering $700/ week with the rest being governmental unemployment. If someone earns $504 a week due to teaching/food delivery/grocery store work etc…., they not only lose their governmental unemployment but the $700 that the Met is offering. However, this was only a temporary band aid.
      The worst was the “offer” that the Met gave which seems to have been so egregious, and last for so many years, that nearly everyone there would have an impossible time supporting their families and would likely seek other employment- rendering the Met decimated.
      All of this after nearly a year of no payment, and no support all while they hire European musicians to take part in the Stars recitals.

    • BruceB says:

      As I understand it (others please correct me if I’m wrong), it’s not that the musician’s won’t accept any pay cut, but they want it to be temporary. Gelb wants to make the cuts permanent.

      It’s worthwhile to gather information from both sides. Both sides understandably present a rather one-sided view of the situation, but far as I can tell, Gelb’s version is much more self-serving than that of the musicians (who don’t have the pulpit that the head of the company has to broadcast their position).

      Not sure how to search for it, but a video was posted on this site several months ago that Gelb made and sent to the company, where he outlined his plan to shrink the company. (I couldn’t find it, but maybe someone else can.)

  • DAVID says:

    In every major city in the United States, there is at least one newspaper which will unfailingly side with management and stand at the ready in order to defend management’s stance in case of a labor dispute. So much for unbiased journalism. In the past few months, we have read enough from Mr. Tommasini not to take him seriously, neither as critic nor as social commentator. Defending the orchestra would imply a form of courage which the NYT simply doesn’t have. Like many other musical institutions in the United States, the MET seems to be on a sure path to self-destruction as it happily sheds its most important asset. This is what happens when the decision makers — board members and administrators — understand nothing about music and view fiscal responsibility, not the art form itself, as their sole ideal and utmost priority.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Seriously, and what is supposed to fix this problem? Joshua Bell flapping around on stage making a sound approximating him zipping his zipper back up, which hasn’t unzipped to begin with?

  • Smiling Larry says:

    My dumb idea, borne of ignorance but constructive in intention … Can the orchestra accept Mr. Gelb’s awful terms for the time being, and then go on strike for better terms when the Met is back to normal a year from now (yes I’m dreaming)? The argument would be, “That was then, this is now.”

    • John Kelly says:

      I had the same thought.

    • Joe Exotic says:

      This is called collective bargaining. Any contract is temporary. Of course the musicians can come back at the next round of negotiations and try to force the salaries back. That’s why the musicians arguments are so flawed.

    • Max Raimi says:

      I am quite sure that any contract they sign will have a no strike/no lockout clause for the duration of the contract. In my experience, that is always on the first page.

  • Ed says:

    The NY Times is merely an extension of the Met’s p.r. department. Its music “critics” long ago ceased any kind of true criticism or even any kind of true reporting, unless it benefited Met management (as in the James Levine situation).

  • Jack_Ewing says:

    Andrew Cuomo’s killing the Met Orchestra, like he’s killing the rest of New York, not Peter Gelb. Florida reopened 4 months ago. The Met made a generous offer, the corrupt unions turned it down. They deserve their own misery.

    • John Kelly says:

      Florida reopened so all those cardboard cutouts in the crowd at the Superbowl were real people? Wow. I didn’t know that……….

      • Kark says:

        There were 25,000 people in the stands. They can have live events with limited attendance.

        • John Kelly says:

          Yes, I did see “real people” too but if this is “opening up” then I believe it’s wanting to put it mildly. The gentlemen inferred that Florida was somehow the Promised Land of being “opened up” compared to “Commie run (Unions), politically correct and impoverished to boot” New York……….of course Florida has such a wonderful artistic life – theaters, opera, world class orchestras (the New World Symphony is one, for a state with a larger population than New York……..). I can’t wait to move down there! So much going on. Such a hotbed of artistic endeavour…………

      • Jack_Ewing says:

        I attended a sold out opera premiere two Saturday nights ago in Miami Shores by the Florida Grand Opera. “Three Decembers”. All CDC guidelines were observed. Florida has a greater population than New York and way less Covid deaths, because our governor quarantines the sick, not the healthy. No restrictions and no filthy masks. But Cuomo decided to destroy NY’s economy on account of a 99,4% survival rate virus. He’s being investigated by his own attorney general. Under his disastrous leadership NY became the number 1 in deaths. Liberals gave him an Emmy. The same NY musicians who cheered Cuomo when he destroyed their livelihoods in theater are now trying to extort the Met for cash they haven’t earned. You deserve your demise.

        • Larry D. says:

          Oh, those “filthy masks”! As Rush said, Covid is just a bad cold! People survive in many, many cases! Look at Superman Trump!

        • A Pianist says:

          I don’t support your vindictiveness but Florida has completely outperformed the northern states by any measure. They are 100% back in business with reasonable voluntary guidelines while NYC staggers on like they have had a zombie apocalypse, arts institutions and restaurants collapse, and the teachers refuse to even plan to return to school. The level of denial on this in NYC and the rest of the Acela corridor is unreal. They just can’t accept the statistics.

          • E Rand says:

            shhhh dont tell them. We want to keep Florida red. Let the libs live in their progressive cesspools.

        • Chris says:

          So you were part of the “small, socially distanced audience” as described on South Florida Classical Review’s site? There were all of _eleven_ paid musicians for the show? Obviously it’s spectacular that there is any sort of live art whatsoever in these times, but seriously, “sold out” and “CDC guidelines” are doing a lot of heavy lifting in your screed. Were there even 50 audience members at the performance? 100? With wages being paid to fewer than a dozen musicians? Set your own house in order, friend, before berating the Met Opera Orchestra for “exort[ing]” their employer.

    • i hate cuomo says:

      good point! time to get rid of the NY liberals!

  • Herby von K says:

    A few points: Met orchestra is not the highest paid orchestra in the US. I don’t think it’s in the top 10 anymore.
    The offer of 1500 until they’re back is wrong and misleading. As far as I have heard the offer is for a short time(8 weeks pay) and the 1500 is actually Met offering to add to the unemployment benefits to make it to 1500. So if one is getting 800$ from the government, Gelb will add 700.

    All the orchestras that agreed to cuts have been payed since March. Met orchestra hasn’t been paid during that whole time.
    Gelb is using the pandemic as an excuse to destroy unions. He’s been trying to do it for years. These terrible time have shown us how important unions are to protect workers from rich employers

    • Bill says:

      While I am generally pro-union, I’m not sure I would enjoy 11 months of the sort of “protection” the Met Opera Orchestra’s union has delivered…what is the possible end game here that makes this anything but a pyrrhic victory?

    • Joe Exotic says:

      Not sure what you think the orchestra is paid, but it is still one of the highest paid in the world.

  • Nijinsky says:

    You could of course have Thomas Hampson do his dress up the monkey (he hasn’t spanked on stage yet (skit(yes it (could he?(would he)) IS) is it?) WHY not!?), that is if Shawn Mendes isn’t available.

  • Jonathan Cable says:

    And to think that the Times dumped the very good Allan Kozinn for this useless hack Tommasini. Disgraceful.

  • Karl says:

    That’s what fake news does. They often omit important facts that don’t fit their narrative.

  • CarlD says:

    Furlough is precisely accurate in this situation (look it up), and Tommasini, whether you care for his reviews or not, holds music degrees from Yale and Boston University, contrary to what’s suggested in comments here.

  • Reality Sux says:

    Lots of misinformation here. The Met offered about $1500 a week with strings attached. First of all, for an initial period of eight weeks, in order to “negotiate in good faith”, and stop the payments if the Met management decides there is no progress. The carrot and the stick. As far as the payments’ effect. Those orchestra musicians working elsewhere regularly, teaching at a conservatory for example, get the full amount from the Met. Those not working get the amount minus their weekly unemployment benefits, which would continue for the time being. Those occasionally working – here’s the major problem – would get the lesser of the two, even in the weeks when they are working. The orchestra thought this arrangement unfair. Additionally, the chorus, which has already accepted said payments, the percentage of their usual salary this payment covers is substantially higher than that offered to the orchestra (each union has entirely different compensation structure). The orchestra has deemed this unfair as well. Last but not least, there’s great resentment and fear of stepping into a trap set by PG, and this is a double edged sword. The orchestra can get gipped at the end of the promised eight weeks, or it can look ‘unreasonable’ to those who who believe this payment should be enough and the quibbles about 20 percent of the orchestra getting less money that they should because of temporary nature of their employment situation should be irrelevant. judging by comments on SD, the Met is already succeeding.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Really Norman, you ought to stay out of it at this point. This sort of hard-nose negotiating between management and labor is hardly uncommon in the U.S. The government is not going to step in and prop up The Met. It ain’t happening. In all likeliness, the musician’s union will have to make some concessions. I know this is a great orchestra, but there isn’t a shortage of hungry musicians behind them, waiting for their chance in life. The Met doesn’t have an economic system that can sustain itself. As everyone knows, it’s reliant upon having a strong endowment. I recommend you drop this campaign and stay out of it. The musicians been offered a way back to the negotiating table, but the union – in typical knee jerk fashion – dismissed it as blackmail. Let them fight it out.

    • John Kelly says:

      Well Barry, I can assure you that nothing said on this blog is going to make an iota of difference to what actually transpires………as influential as some may think this blog is………….

    • Tiredofitall says:

      The Met does not have a strong endowment, pursuant to its budget.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    I have the idea that industrial relations at the MET are a vipers nest. Re-reading the section on the MET in ‘A Tale of Four Houses’ by Susie Gilbert and Jay Shir there is more the one reference to poor labour relations, the first mentioned being in 1960 between Bing and the orchestra. And over the years these face offs have been part of the MET tradition. The animus towards Gelb might be warranted, I don’t know, but I suspect that whoever found him or herself in the current situation would find the situation not much different and the eventual outcome equally unresolved. The MET and the American Federation of Musicians have squared up to each other many times in the past and presumably will do so in the future. Assuming that one or other of them has a future. And given the sentiment here my money isn’t on the MET whoever fronts it unless things radically change.

  • Skippy says:

    I can’t speak to the situation in Europe, where many things in life (health care, higher education) are provided for by the government, but $150k/year hardly seems excessive, given the level of professional accomplishment required to join an orchestra such as the Met’s.

    If I were a billionaire, I’d send them a $100 million tomorrow. Alas, I’m not, but surely there’s a public-spirited plutocrat out there who appreciates the role that an institution like the Met plays in a civilized society.

  • Harpist says:

    The NYT, once a shining light of journalism, has become a paper that often is not worth the subscription fee as noticeable under the Trump regime with its normalization (Hi Maggie). And Mr. Tommasisni has more often than not produced garbage reviews which were quite frequently referring to a concert quite different from what Had attended even though it seemed to have been at the same date and place and time. So, no surprise there.

    • E Rand says:

      can you clarify if you are suggesting that the nytimes was pro-trump?

      • Couperin says:

        They definitely aren’t explicitly anti-Trump, having enabled, legitimized, normalized and otherwise boosted his candidacy all throughout the 2016 election and the past four years. They still won’t even call the “Big Lie” a lie, even if it’s more out of stubborn semantic reasons. Let us not forget their beating the drums of War in Iraq and WMDs in 2003, or the work of the disgraced Judith Miller. No, the concept of the NYT being a stridently left-wing rag is most definitely right-wing spin, much like Trump’s incoherent legal defense at his SECOND impeachment trial today.

        • a Sunday Prayer of Jubilation says:


          On this Valentines Day we celebrate the following:

          A. Hillary’s “Russian delusion” was ultimately shot down as baseless lies rooted in Hillary’s megalomania WITHOUT EVIDENCE leaving President Trump in office to lead with honor and passion.

          B. Yesterday “FORMER” President Trump was easily vindicated as Liberal extremists were too petrified to do TWO SIMPLE THINGS…be deposed and TESTIFY!! Yet again, this easily exonerated Mr. Trump!!!

          C. Both times he was cleared and Democrats completely embarrassed themselves as uneducated oafs!!!!

          Again, the “Pandora’s Box” they sought to open and unleash swallowed them up revealing their envy and hatred of an innocent patriot with a brilliant mind and good heart. What have the Democrats got to show for their expensive persecutions? NOTHING BUT ENORMOUS BILLS THE TAXPAYERS MUST BEAR. This is of course simple to unburden legal citizens of. Soon both Trump and all conservatives who have been maligned by the Left are SUED for libel and slander besides the injuries and deaths Democrats fomented during their riot-insighting rantings and ravings!

          Starting with Biden, Harris and Pelosi being brought up on charges along with slimy Hillary, Trump and scores of conservatives will pocket hefty settlements and see a few of these leftist savages go to prison.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    To be more specific as to the Met’s endowment, it hovers around $250 million and draws down about $12 million annually….not much of a dent in an annual budget exceeding $300 million. Their endowment has been raided for any (legally) expendable funds for years under Gelb.

    It’s a simple rule of thumb that nonprofits should have an endowment twice the size of their annual budget. Precious few achieve this goal, and the Met falls woefully short.

  • degenerate opera lover says:

    it would be much better if the virtuous NY Times get to the point faster and just cancel evil Gelb!

  • Bryan Epperson says:

    a crime against Art.

  • John Scullion says:

    I’m sure the met is paying off the times