Just in: Peter Gelb bans kids from the Met

Just in: Peter Gelb bans kids from the Met


norman lebrecht

July 28, 2021

With customary sensitivity, the Metropolitan Opera has just posted the following:

Children under the age of 12, for whom there is no currently available vaccine, will not be permitted to enter the Met regardless of the vaccination status of their guardians.

Well, no point in stagung Hansel and Gretel, then.

They go on to say:

As soon as children under the age of 12 become eligible to receive a vaccine, fully vaccinated children will be welcomed back to the Met.

It’s not the edict that offends, it’s the wording.

But the Met has the worst customer-facing communications of any opera house outside China. They never learn.


  • TP says:

    Regardless of Gelb’s previous blunders, I appreciate “blunt” clear unambiguous wording when it comes to health directives and information. Quick and easy to understand.

    • Brian says:

      Yes, this seems straightforward enough. Besides, I can probably count on one hand the number of under-12s I’ve ever seen at the Met. They’d much rather be at home playing MineCraft!

      • Kathleen E King says:

        Well, the ones you have seen are worth more than any adult who even knows what “Minecraft” might be. So long as the “children” under 12 are engaging with opera, they need to be encouraged; THEY are the future!

        • Steve T says:

          The reason so many kids enjoy Minecraft so much is that it’s brilliant: hugely rewarding, creative, immersive. Much like opera, in fact! If you know any folk who play it, get them to show you around one of their Minecraft ‘worlds’. It’s fab.

    • Hayne says:

      Yeah, who cares about the science…

    • Kathleen E King says:

      There is NO way to overlook “Gelb’s previous blunders”! He has done his best to destroy the MET and this is just one more example of his stupid, counterproductive “management” style. GET RID OF GELB!

      • NotToneDeaf says:

        Kathleen – “Get rid of Gelb” (nice capital letters on your part) because he’s issued an appropriate health directive? Why don’t you go back to your Trump rally and leave us alone on this site. You miserable anti-vaxxers are exactly why Gelb is having to take these steps. Grow up and be a responsible adult.

  • Gustavo says:

    Kinder, schaut die Krise an,
    wie der Peter herrschen kann.
    Wie er hart,
    selber nun zum Opfer ward!
    Merkt des Himmels Strafgericht:
    böse Werke dauern nicht!

  • Ross Amico says:

    I find the Met’s current production of “Hansel and Gretel” more offensive than anything in the wording of this “edict.”

    • Gustavo says:

      The whole work is offensive by today’s standards. A dirty old man dressed up as granny, offering sweets to two deprived children, forcing the girl to work and locking the boy up in a cage to ask him to present his extrimties.

      Not to mention “the broom stick”.

      Ja, was macht man damit?

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Richard the Third: an embittered hunchback wants to mount Lady Anne and take over so he decides to murder children he’s locked in a tower.

        Yep, they all speak well – but what do you do with it?

      • Novagerio says:

        Gus, ever heard of the Grimm Brothers?…

  • May says:

    I’m speechless. This is pathetic. The man is totally clueless when it comes to PR. However I’m trying to see the silver lining, which is that an entire generation will be spared the experience of having fallen asleep during a Met performance. I also have faith that the exempted children will find other outlets to discover opera. For starters, opera houses could present “Brundibár” with the eponymous villian sporting bald head and rimless glasses.

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      May, this isn’t a PR statement – it’s a public health directive. What about it do you find so “pathetic”? Would that you were, indeed, as speechless as you claim so you could spare us all your inanities.

      • May says:

        The public health policy for the state of NY states that in order for venues to sell/fill every seat, that non-vaccinated persons must present a negative test. Notice that other Lincoln Center institutions are NOT implementing the same policy as the Met. It is a PR statement in the sense that it goes against common sense in the arts world: years of audience development have just been flushed down the drain. Granted few children actually attend Met performances. However it sends a terrible signal to young audiences. Once again, children are getting the short end of the stick.

    • José Bergher says:

      Hans Krasa’s “Brundibar” is a fine opera. It was premiered at the Theresienstadt concentration camp during the Second World War.
      Many years ago I had the honor of meeting a Czech lady who as a child took part in all the 50-plus performances of the opera at the concentration camp. About 10,000 children were interned in the camp. She was one of the 93 who survived. All other children were deported to Auschwitz, where they were gassed.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      No children at The Met? That’s more than half their audience!!! Probably more, if they’re New Yorkers.

    • AlbericM says:

      So it’s better to teach children ageism and mockery than to learn how to sit still and learn?

  • George says:

    So no Carmen, no Bohème, no Boris, no Werther, no Turandot, no Tosca…as they all have children’s choruses…?!?!

    • AlbericM says:

      Wouldn’t most of those children be 12+ and thus eligible for the vaccine? Besides, 3-5 minutes excised from a popular opera wouldn’t render it unperformable.

  • MacroV says:

    I know we are two nations divided by a common language, but this Yankee really doesn’t get what the problem is with the wording.

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      There is no problem whatsoever. It’s just that this site wouldn’t approve of Peter Gelb if he balanced the Met’s budget, sold out every performance and gave every employee a $10,000 raise. There would still be something wrong.

    • AstorEd says:

      Nothing. Lebrecht can’t stop himself from taking a shot at the Met, no matter how petty and cheap.

    • V.Lind says:

      I agree. It is clear and open. Anything else would be seen as trying to sugarcoat a policy.

      Apparently the argument for leaving children to last, if at all, in the vaccination queue is that they are less likely to suffer severe impact. But they are still possibly subject to contracting, and therefore spreading, Covid. The Met’s policy on vaccination — right or wrong, and I think it is right — has been clearly stated. This just makes sure there is no ambiguity when it comes to the kids.

      • Saxon says:

        Having the vaccine won’t stop you getting Covid and spreading Covid; it only stops you getting seriously ill. Since children don’t get seriously ill, there really is no reason for them to get vaccinated.

    • Undocumented legal resident says:

      Vaccine passports — that’s what is wrong. The cake’s icing: since there’s neither vaccine nor passport, everyone is banned.

  • Karl says:

    Couldn’t the kids attend if they wore hazmat suits? Shouldn’t we ALL be wearing hazmat suits?

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    You’re all kvetching that the Met doesn’t sugarcoat such crucial bad news – in an effort to save lives? And who says that Gelb himself wrote it?? You harpies need to grow up!

  • Andrew Clark says:

    Culture has been declining in the US for years now. I hope and pray that Covid-19 does not bury it.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    This is a public health directive, not an apology. As such, there should not be–nor is there–any ambiguity.

    The Met’s communications are often wrong-headed and confusing, or even laughable (despite an ever-growing legion of marketing and communication personnel …headed by, yes, the long-time Communications Director from Glyndebourne), but in this instance, they got it right.

    The news is not good, but the message is correct.

    • Saxon says:

      A public health directive…that has no effect on public health. The policy is bizarre and only speaks to those who have terrified themselves into stupidity, or hate children.

  • justin says:

    Children are walking petri dishes.

    Eww, they deserve no kind words. Stay home.

    I think that was the point of all Brothers Grimm fairy tales: cautionary tales for all children with cooties to stay home.

  • BRUCEB says:

    I honestly don’t understand the complaints about this statement.

  • Igor says:

    Clearly, another slow day in the scandal mongering business.

  • Tim46 says:

    The correct wording should read “…for whom there is currently, no available vaccine…”

  • Kathleen E King says:

    it’s PAST time to ban Gelb!
    Exactly HOW does one stage La Boheme and many other operas without the children’s chorus?

    • AlbericM says:

      1. More cheaply.
      2. Less rehearsal time.
      3. Offstage female chorus.

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      No Boheme at the Met??? Gosh, it really is time to revive that long-ignored work. Really, you think going a season without Boheme is some kind of disaster? You prove yourself to be more clueless with each post. You should really quit while you’re behind.

  • I don’t see the problem. It is clear wording with a clear explanation.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Perfectly understandable statement. No doubt the children under 12 who were itching to see Electra and Salome will be disappointed.

  • Joey Angels says:

    In addition to the children under 12 not vaccinated, persons who do not present proof of vaccination will not be permitted to enter the opera house. Good!!!!!

    NFL and MLB should do the same because the science supports such policies when the virus has not been controlled. It may be tethered, but not conquered.

    • Saxon says:

      The science does not “support such policies”. That is nonsense. Getting vaccinated is a sensible thing to do because you become very unlikely to become seriously ill when you get covid. But it can’t stop you from getting covid. Whether someone else gets vaccinated does not affect your health outcomes, or whether you will get Covid.

  • Seth I. Chodosh says:

    How the hell “should” it have been worded?!?!?

    We are still living in a Pandemic…while you are clutching your pearls, people are spreading disease, and dying…



  • Tom Phillips says:

    No matter what Gelb says or does, he will be denounced on this blog.

  • DG says:

    I was thinking of bringing my under-12 kids to the Met this season (for real, they’ve been before and enjoyed it immensely). The Met still appears to have the “holiday presentations” of Magic Flute and Cinderella on the schedule. Think they will keep these on the schedule with no kids allowed? We went to their holiday presentation of the Magic Flute a few years ago and it was full of kids, because it’s way shorter and in English so the serious opera folk stay away. I missed the many ‘cut’ pieces of music (especially that overture, how can anyone cut that masterpiece??) but it was an ideal intro to opera for children because it didn’t give them time to get restless. I don’t understand how they still have these shortened holiday presentations on the schedule if they are not letting kids in.

  • Kerrin Meis says:

    Peter Gelb is almost unbelievably stupid. Is there any way to get rid of him.?

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      Kerrin – It is because of you selfish, ignorant anti-vaxxers that Gelb is having to take such steps. Go back to your Trump rally and leave us alone.

  • Ilio says:

    Hansel & Gretel is not an Opera for kids….

  • Fred Funk says:

    I don’t have a lame viola joke that’s applicable to Peter Gelb. I have to draw the line here. A 12 year old has better drawing skills than him.

  • Tim46 says:

    For Larry D.
    Thank you for your comment. I am originally from England, and when we were taught English sixty five years ago by our Cambridge professor, commas were used much more frequently. And quite rightly, it is not totally necessary. I seem to recall it was all to do with the breath!

  • Musicman says:

    But yet Gelb never had a problem allowing children to participate in productions conducted by James Levine…what a hypocrite!

    • Thomas says:

      Why can’t the kids provide a negative antigen quick test instead of a vaccination certificate as accepted for flights and opera performances elsewhere in the world, for kids and adults? Absurd.

  • Turnindough says:

    I am interested in how they are going to operate their Children’s chorus, and children performers department. Many operas have integral chorus parts ment for childrens’ vocal instument specifically. At the age of 12, many children age out vocally at the MET…and those that don’t, how will the parents feel about vaccines for young kids/barely teens…not on the fence about the Vax for adults…just not sure for our youngest…

    • Saxon says:

      The vaccine is unlikely to do young kids/barely teens any harm. But it probably won’t do them much good either.

      The main benefit of the vaccine is for older people, and those in poor health, and the seriously fat. Those people would be crazy not to take the vaccine, and that is where the public health message needs to be heard.

  • David says:

    I think they may be complaining that
    Currently there are no government approved vaccines for children under 12.

    • Saxon says:

      Even if there was a vaccine for the under 12s, the benefits are so low that it is questionable whether it would be wise to vaccinate them.