Breaking: PBS say sorry for cutting short Verdi’s Requiem

Breaking: PBS say sorry for cutting short Verdi’s Requiem


norman lebrecht

September 13, 2021 has received this message from the company’s Audience Engagement Specialist about the disruption of the 9/11 broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera:

We are sorry that there was an issue during the last few minutes of the program. PBS broadcast technicians noticed an issue and switched feeds to correct it. We apologize for the error that occurred that disrupted viewing.

After fixing the issue, PBS let member stations know about the error and provided the opportunity to re-broadcast Great Performances – Verdi’s Requiem: The Met Remembers 9/11 at 11 p.m. that same evening.

While some stations may encore the broadcast, Great Performances – Verdi’s Requiem: The Met Remembers 9/11 may be viewed without interruption on the Great Performances website and the PBS Video app.




  • Vaquero357 says:

    Eh, it was a garden variety PBS error. They didn’t run out of time – 2 hours were blocked out for the broadcast, and the oops happened at about 1:40. Looked like something or somebody accidentally kicked off a promo for the Vienna Philharmonic “summer night” concert – which had already been run several weeks ago.

    So yes, it blotted out a bit of the hushed, unsettling ending of the Requiem. Somebody realized the error pretty quickly and switched back to the MET feed, so we saw Yannick standing stock still as after the music had faded away.

    Too bad, but them’s the breaks in Live TV. I’m not a PBS subscriber, so I don’t have standing to complain!

    PS: For not having performed together during the last 18 months, I thought the chorus and orchestra sang and played extremely well. Some of the commenters in your earlier post were pretty harsh on the soloists. They weren’t perfect, but again, their performance opportunities have been limited of late. And again, I wasn’t a paying customer.

    • Esther Cavett says:

      ==Some of the commenters in your earlier post were pretty harsh

      Hey, welcome to Slipped Disc. It’s what happens

      • Vaquero357 says:

        When the acrimonious flame wars of SD start to wear me down, I retreat to the genteel civility of far right wing political forums {;-)

    • “Them’s the breaks” ?!!! What an idiotic comment. You seem eager to distinguish yourself as an unusually vile sort of philistine. That moment when the violent disruption by PBS occurred was in truth, crucially, a most moving moment when the culmination of all the feelings that this great sacred work has been giving rise to was being solemnly but emphatically intoned….and beautifully resolved… Everyone who knows the work is deeply engrossed in powerful, meaningful thoughts and feelings at that critical time. To violently wrench the work away at a time when the audience was so emotionally vulnerable…That was an act displaying contempt for the audience and the work of great work of sacred art itself. Moreover, this seems by all evidence to have been a deliberate decision by PBS marked by a totally obscene disrespect for the feelings of their viewers. While their reputation will forever be blackened, yet there still should be a price to pay…

      • Vaquero357 says:

        Now, Arthur, I completely agree with you that the contretemps happened at *exactly* the worst moment in the piece. Stress, however, is often caused by an actual event conflicting with your expectations. This is PBS. I’ve watched PBS for 50 years. My expectations are accordingly in line with what’s likely to happen.

        And…. I’ve never been called a “vile philistine” or anything similar. Most of the time I’m the overly intellectual guy in the group. Next time I’m on a date and my date’s attention is drifting because I’m talking too much about arcane “artsy” stuff, would you mind if I called you up, and you could assure her that, “It’s OK, he’s actually a vile philistine.”

        Just, you know, one bro doing another bro a solid?

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Arthur, just in case you hadn’t noticed: you could go to your local used CD store and probably find a dozen different versions of the not-so-rare Verdi Requiem. At Amazon or any other good online store, you could probably find a dozen different DVD’s of live performances of it. On Youtube alone, there must be at least fifteen different Verdi Requiems to watch for free . . . . and without the distraction of 9/11 stuff (yes, I know; It’s both tragic and important. I get it).

        • Ashu says:

          [Arthur, just in case you hadn’t noticed: you could go to your local used CD store and probably find a dozen different versions of the not-so-rare Verdi Requiem.]

          You can’t be serious. This was a communal experience, a ritual of collective mourning and catharsis. You might as well tell people to stay home and mourn privately instead of going to a funeral.

    • obviously... says:

      Actually, on New York’s Thirteen television listing on my cable system, they had it scheduled as lasting until 9:35, followed by a movie.

      It wasn’t an early switch, but one that had clearly been scheduled.

      (I’m not hyperventilating about the mistake, but they seemed to flip the switch at the planned time – alas, the live performance had yet to conclude.)

  • Vaquero357 says:

    PPS: And PBS has made good-faith efforts to make up for the oops. *Maybe* letting local stations re-run the broadcast in its entirely at a later date would be a nice final touch. But there may be musicians’ union issues……

  • geoff says:

    Not in Canada

  • Ortrud von Trapp says:

    Evidently Yannick’s tempi were too sluggish

    • Yes Addison says:

      Anyone who found YNS too sluggish would have a hard time with Reiner, Celibidache, and Barbirolli in this piece. Not that many people recommend the last recording of those three. I’d have liked to hear his solo quartet with someone else.

      I haven’t heard the Met Requiem yet, but it would make sense if YNS’s tempi in the Requiem were on the broad side. Wasn’t Giulini his idol/mentor?

  • Tyin’ One On...LMFAO!!! says:

    The piece was simply “re-imagined” by liberals as…

    The Verdi Vasectomy!
    (‘Inspired’ by little Peter Gelb)

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    This episode reminds me of the first time Toscanini conducted the prelude to ‘Tristan und Isolde’ in the US – the sound engineer turned off the recording about 10 seconds before the end, since the orchestra was no longer playing ‘something’.

  • Johanna Quartel says:

    Yes, it is possible to watch the Verdi Requiem on the PBS website–if you live in the US. Otherwise, not. Most Canadians, many of whom contribute financially to PBS stations, are out of luck.

    • V. Lind says:

      Must be rights issues. It is outrageous, as eastern Canadians would have had the same disruptions. And you are right about donations. There is a PBS station in Watertown, New York, which I gather is a bit of a rural area, made up of small towns. The only urban centre within their orbit is Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

      Friends of mine are PBS donors in Ottawa, and were invited to a party given in thanks by the station. They were informed that Ottawa was the major donor to the station — by a long way — and that if they withdrew donations the station would be off the air.

      I would not be surprised if this is true at other points along the border. I hope the Canadians complain — their withdrawal of support would represent a real threat.

      • BRUCEB says:

        Where I live (Spokane WA) fundraisers at our local PBS station mention Calgary a LOT during their pledge drives… which also means the towns between Calgary and the border probably also get the station (and hopefully send donations).

      • Johanna Quartel says:

        ‘My’ PBS station, WNED, now calls itself ‘Buffalo-Toronto Public Media’. Follow the money!

  • Hayne says:

    They’re sorry…until the next time.

  • Mark Biggam says:

    Too late regarding the apology. The bell has been rung.

  • JoshW says:

    I live in a major metro region (in the US) and our local station didn’t carry it at all. I guess they didn’t want to interrupt the “Antiques Roadshow” episode which has been in reruns since 2007.

    • Vaquero357 says:

      I know…. I live in a market *smaller* than Greenbay, Wisconsin, and we get ALL of the Great Performances and GP from the MET episodes – often long before friends who live in large markets get them. Go figure.

  • John says:

    Its always sorry a word being used too many times with racism

  • Michael McGrath says:

    PBS used to represent discerning taste, intelligence. Seems to have slipped into ignorance like so much else.
    When I initially saw this headline, I thought they’d censored the performance for lack of diversity. Or offensive language. Or the inappropriateness of the soprano’s decollete. Or using a language that was IMPERIAL in heritage (Latin, Rome…) and therefore inappropriate for the oppressed… in a piece of music which stems from the evil western colonial period.

  • SnellKrell says:

    “PBS broadcast technicians noticed an issue and switched feeds to correct it.”

    This is the response from PBS. As a network television producer/supervisor for many years, I don’t believe this explanation at all. When you switch feeds, you’re switching to the same content. This was not the case. PBS cut away from The Met’s feed and should own up to it. Also, I’d love to hear about the Misty Copeland opening. Missing audio, no light –
    and it took forever for the the audience to know of her location!

    Rank amateur and very disappointing.

    And the PBS “spin” is unacceptable.