Yannick, late to the party, weeps for Met musicians

Yannick, late to the party, weeps for Met musicians


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2021

The music director of the Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, has sneaked to the New York Times a letter he has written to Peter Gelb and the Met board, sympathising with the orchestra musicians who have gone unpaid for the past year.

And where has he been all along?

His letter states, among other things:

Of course, I understand this is a complex situation but as the public face of the Met on a musical level, I am finding it increasingly hard to justify what has happened.

In other words: I’ve just realised this is bad for my image.

We risk losing talent permanently. The orchestra and chorus are our crown jewels, and they must be protected. Their talent is the Met. The artists of the Met are the institution…Protecting the long-term future of the Met is inextricably linked with retaining these musicians, and with respecting their livelihoods, their income, and their well-being…I implore the fiduciaries of this incredible house to urgently help to find a solution to compensate our artists appropriately. We all realize the challenges, economic and otherwise, that the Met is facing, and therefore I ask for empathy, honesty, and open communication throughout this process.

Translation: We’re losing our best players and I never noticed.

This is not Yannick’s finest hour.

UPDATE: Peter Gelb: No-one understands me


  • yujafan says:

    It’s what can happen when you spread yourself too thinly – better perhaps in his position to have fewer ‘big’ appointments and concentrate more on them?

    • Save the MET says:

      Gelb hired him because he is spread too thin and does not have the time to get into the nitty gritty of what really goes on there. Gelb does not want anyone powerful in that position, or once reported, his time is over.

  • Longtime Met Supporter says:

    Performative slacktivism

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    The Road to Damascus finally ends at Lincoln Square?

  • William says:

    Peter had a very bad day yesterday. This will make it easier for some Board members to help out an end to his latest gamble. He may be moving out of his free apartment soon.

    • Kenny says:

      His apartment is not free. Nor paid for by anyone but him.

      • Save the MET says:

        Absolutely untrue, The MET holds the lease, he gets fired, he moves. At one time they owned the apartment the GM lived in. It is part of his over-compensated employment package.

        • Tiredofitall says:

          Not true

        • JoshW says:

          You are 100% wrong. I’m finally figuring out that you’re a troll who’s been hired by the unions (IATSE or musicians? or both?) to provide wrong information. Sort of like the Russians during the last election. Go away with your hatred and lies.

    • Dan Danielli says:

      Peter Gelb bought his apartment in 1998. I am the real estate broker who sold it to him.

      • A Pianist says:

        And can you confirm he only has one? Otherwise the above statement might be perfectly accurate.

        • Dan Danielli says:

          The apartment I sold to Peter Gelb was formerly the home of New York City Mayor John Lindsay. It is a sumptuous home in one of Manhattan’s premiere buildings.

          • Wayne Hendricks says:

            Peter could do with some DOWNSIZING of both his privileged living quarters as well as his ego.

            With his contract recently renewed, Ann Ziff could facilitate a more humble living arrangement while she’s helping him out during his “foregoing of salary”. What BS! Gemini has enough room to put him and his klan up but it’s a bit far South. Although working virtually is something he and the rest of the still PAID staff should do anyway.

            No shows or in person meetings can occur under Cuomo though his new edict allowing a paltry occupancy can’t justify expenses of most performances. Most venues will remain closed due to his arrogance.

            Just like everyone else who’s already had to sell or break their lease, Pete needs to be brought down to earth.

  • Sharon says:

    How do you think Levine would have handled this?

  • Save the MET says:

    The MET’s band is broken. They have now former players working with other orchestras, moved and retired. Yannick was brought in by Gelb, as he was willing to be subservient. A talented conductor, Gelb isn’t fit to shine his shoes, same as he isn’t fit to shine Levine’s. That said, Yannick won’t be there long. I’ve spoken to several members of the orchestra who are not happy. The orchestra will now have to be re-built. Bringing in gig musicians to fill spaces at Metropolitan Opera ticket prices is not good enough. This really would be a great time to clean house and bring in a new GM and Artistic Director at a par level to move the house forward, one in charge of business operations, the other for opera operations. Both should be well qualified, innovative and have an understanding of what the current Metropolitan Opera wants to see on the stage, before they worry about changing things which drove the ones when Gelb was hired away. Gelb should be shown the door to pursue “other opportunities” where he can do no damage to a revered public institution.

  • Martin says:

    Are the musicians being used as a collateral damage to break the stranglehold of IATSE whose members are infinitely less qualified than the musicians, but who make equivalent, if not higher, salaries?

    • P. Marsh says:

      Check with the new 6-figure “diversity enforcer”. Can’t wait for the new ‘talent’ to show off their diversity during the NYT Blow premiere Gelb is trumpeting. Ugh!

  • musician says:

    Too late Yannick. It’s not that we hate you, mediocre yes, but not a pedo sex cult leader like the last guy at least. We are just very disappointed you didn’t know better. This will not wash off and true colors have been shown.

  • John Borstlap says:

    But it’s the very slow postal services in NY city.

  • Save the MET says:

    For anyone who cares, the most recent reported list of Metropolitan Opera salaries, likely 2019, as the year is not listed. Gelb is massively overpaid. If this were a public company, he would have been long tossed by now. https://nonprofitlight.com/ny/new-york/metropolitan-opera-association-inc

  • Reality Check says:

    I don’t understand all the Yannick bashing. I have heard the Philadelphia Orchestra many times at Carnegie and they always sound phenomenal with YNZ. They are typically the highlight of the Carnegie orchestra subscription.
    He literally has barely started at the Met. In fact didn’t he agree to start a year or two early to bake them out over Levine’s BS?!
    Why would he have a comment about Levine?!!! On top of that he has not built up of decades of clout there to be able to convince ensconced wealthy Board members of anything. It’s a world wide health CRISIS. How about chilling out on this guy a little?!!! And the picture is stupid. What, you’ve never chilled in a hotel before. Relax.

    • Mel Cadman says:

      I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Yannick conduct on at least 3, highly memorable occasions, in both Glasgow and the Edinburgh International Festival, in the mid 2020s. He was a relative unknown but coaxed extraordinary performances from orchestras and choirs, whom were clearly as ecstatic about his musicianship as well as delightfully affable and intelligent approach to people with whom he worked. Standing ovations in Scotland are extremely rare but he managed to secure these on each occasion. He was then a phenomenal talent and recognised for that by ecstatic audiences.

      • BillML203 says:

        I disagree. I find Yannick’s artistic interpretations to be half-baked and rather pedestrian. He is even more over his head with respect to his music directorial responsibilities (shared as they are with Gelb). His days appears to be numbered in any event.

    • Ben says:

      He is totally ignorant of how the singing voice functions.

      The Met revolves around Opera Singers in case you’re not informed.

  • Marc G. says:

    Another form of demagoguery. Please. Yannick is a show man. The Celine Dion of orchestra’s. His ignorant schtick is borderline arrogant. But he is not ruffling any feathers while he collects one of multiple salaries. But what is he to do? Jeopardize his fluffy robes for the food of other’s? Hell, no. Someone let the working class know – there is no free lunch. Unless you’re Yannick level.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A small, but necessary correction: could his slow reaction not simply be the result of not knowing what to do and how? Being in his position is psychologically difficult, especially in these times.

  • Mr. Ictus says:

    Do t kid yourself. Every member of the Met orchestra can be replaced at 40% less in salary. (The stagehands at 50%) The argument that there are only so many qualified musicians available is misguided. Music schools have been turning out top talent for decades. Many of them end up working at Starbucks.