Met Opera saved $41m in wages in 4 months of Covid

Met Opera saved $41m in wages in 4 months of Covid


norman lebrecht

June 11, 2021

The Met has published its tax returns for the year ending July 2020, four months of which were shut by Covid.

Two chiefs continued to draw their pay.

Met general manager Peter Gelb earned $1.46 million, marginally down from $1.49 million the year before.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin cashed in $915,571, up from $392,152 in 2019, when he had just two productions.

Total salaries fell from $240 million to $199 million.




  • IntBaritone says:

    Hmmm… Only telling part of the story really doesn’t help anyone here:

    How much did ticket revenue fall during that period compared to 2019?

    How much did donations fall during that period compared to 2019?

    The MET is an often terribly run organization, but let’s have all the facts and not just some of them. Sensationalism really helps no one.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Where is this information posted? It’s not on the Met’s website nor GuideStar.

    Equally interesting will be revenues.

  • Mock Mahler says:

    Some administrators have realized that you can draw a large salary and act busy without producing very much if anything. The tightrope is how long one can keep this up without the organization collapsing–and with it, the administrator’s job.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      The top administrators at the Met (those earning $250,000+…and there are MANY) will be the last to go. They will hang on for dear life. Their productivity depends on all those who earn much less, and those lesser-paid employees are the most vulnerable. There is no “all-for-one and one-for-all” mentality.

      My only question is who will be the Met’s George Steel, to basically close up shop?

      • Tom Phillips says:

        You sound like you can’t wait for that to occur. Will you be gloating when the Met “closes up shop”?

        • Tiredofitall says:

          I’ll be happy when the company is totally reorganized with an emphasis on the musicians and all those artists, craftspeople, and administrators who contribute to what is presented on the stage, and when a sustainable nonprofit (U.S.) model is truly adopted. The Met’s corporate (top heavy) organization will only lead to its demise.

          We have witnessed how bad it can get. Let’s see if anyone on the board will have the balls to blow the whistle. Knowing those key players, I have my doubts. It’s much easier to write a check than to do the difficult work of leadership.

    • Kathleen E King says:

      In Gelb’s case, far too! and his pet conductor/music director is just like him although he does have some talent.

  • John Kelly says:

    To add insult to injury here, I happen to know for a FACT that the ushers/bathroom attendants (lowest paid/most vulnerable) have not only not been paid at all THEY HAVE HAD THEIR PENSIONS CUT, many with 20+ years of service. Disgraceful.

    • Tamino says:

      That’s what happens when you live in a plutocracy like the US.
      But hey, all these ushers and bathroom attendants were free in the land of the free, oh so free, to start their own business, and become millionaires. So all is good as always. Isn’t it?

      • John Kelly says:

        The Land of the Free and unfortunately the home of the not so brave………and I don’t mean the Met ushers………it’s pretty hard to tell a 60 odd year old bathroom attendant that after 20 years their pension got a significant haircut………when you are keeping your $1m+ salary (albeit with a reduction as well) – it may sound slightly socialist to suggest that we take care of the lowest paid workers, but in my opinion it’s THE most capitalist thing that can and must be done, it’s a moral imperative. Oh sorry, I forgot, it’s Peter Gelb’s Met……..

        • Louis K says:

          If it weren’t for capitalism, the donors and board members wouldn’t have the cash to keep endlessly bandaging the blood gushing Met!

          I don’t believe antifa, blm, schumer or Biden have lifted a financial finger yet??

    • Nijinsky says:

      Thanks for reporting, that. That’s truly tragic, and the sort of stuff that’s been going on, before the pandemic, for years. I ride the local bus system, and there I’ve heard several stories from people who in a decent fashion worked their whole life in a factory that then moved overseas for cheaper labor, and they lost their whole pension.

  • JaneO says:

    If Slipped Disc understood the financials just published in the Mets most recent 990, they would understand that the named salaries are for calendar year 2019, before the pandemic, when performances were happening as normal.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      NL is very specific about the fiscal year – FY2020 (ending four months after the theatre’s closure), not FY2019 (which had a full season. The Met’s annual audit occurs in August/September for the previous fiscal year, ending July 31.

      Until we see where the Met published the 2020 return, no one can really make any knowlegeable comment.

  • Alter Frager says:

    And how much did they lose in ticket income in the same period?

  • drummerman says:

    Any reason you didn’t report on income?

  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    Very disappointing to see that Nézet-Séguin was paid almost a million dollars for doing essentially nothing while the orchestra wasn’t paid a dime. This stinks.

    • Roderick Nash says:

      Makes me want to NEVER go back to the Met. I have been attending performances there for 52 years! Gelb’s salary is DISGUSTING!

  • lillian says:

    Gelb took $1.46m?? For what, exactly, in a time of pandemic closures and widely publicised issues with musicians’ pay, etc.?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      One would assume this was only for the eight months of the fiscal year prior to the Met’s closure in mid-March 2020, after which Gelb (supposedly) forfeited his salary. Always a suspicious announcement to me…but the FY2020 and FY2021 financials will provide the proof.

  • Curvy Honk Glove says:

    Looks like we found a pot of money to offset the Juilliard tuition increase. Time to Robin-Hood this thing and take from those who have and give to those who have not. Come to think of it, is the MET appropriately virtue-signalling for pride month?

  • musician says:

    Well it seems we are all in agreement, Gelb must be removed.

    • Musicman says:

      And that’s $2500 a day to never make a sound, even when there ARE performances!

    • Roderick Nash says:

      Yes. Get rid of Peter Gelb and his whoping salary. What an inflated ego and arrogance!

      • Robert Sorrentino says:

        Even if it means digging up Sir Rudolf Bing!

        Seriously, though, Gelb has been a failure at everything he’s done. The only good things to come out of his stay with Sony Classical were the Bernstein Royal Edition and Bernstein Century series of reissues. The only good thing to come out of his stay at the Met is Live in HD.

  • Mike Hedders says:

    Nezet-Seguin was on $2500+ a day last year. Nice work if you can geddit.

  • Kathleen E King says:

    Proof! Peter Gelb seeks only his own aggrandizement and profit. He has mismanaged the MET from the inception, with the results worsening over time until the pandemic when he tried to “finish off” the real glory of the Metropolitan Opera by killing its unions and penalizing the true MET, its people. FIRE PETER GELB!!!

  • Clarissa says:

    Wow. And Gelb is asking singers to give 13% of their pay (for 8-9 years) to AGMA “or they can’t reopen”? What a load of shit. Where’s your 13%, Peter??? After 15 months of not paying people and “meeting fundraising goals”, there’s no money?
    And good luck to Yannick: looking the orchestra straight in the face after so many had to move apartments and leave the city is going to be… interesting…

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Sweet. I’m quitting the music business and becoming an opera administrator.

  • Scott says:

    Gelb should be fired.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    $1.46 million is NOT a big income. Y’all need to get out more.

  • Monsoon says:

    The top salaries portion of a 990 is almost always a year behind the rest of the data in the 990 because it’s reported on the calendar year because the IRS wants this information to line up with the W2’s for those employees, while the rest of the data is on the organization’s fiscal year.

    So if the Met’s fiscal year ends in July ’20, then the top salaries are from calendar year ’19 because that’s the most recent complete calendar year vis-à-vis its fiscal year. You’re going to have to wait until its FY21 990 is posted to see the top salaries in calendar year ’20 (likely sometime in ’22).

    990s have all kinds of quirks like this. It’s not a great document for telling you what’s going on in a nonprofit organization.

    The audited financial report gives better insight (the Met has yet to post the FY20):

    • fcg says:

      butbutbut, that would require a balanced look at the situation. We can’t look at this fairly when we have an agenda to promote!