Peter Gelb gets renamed

Peter Gelb gets renamed


norman lebrecht

September 28, 2022

It has been requested that the boss of the Metropolitan Opera is to be known henceforth as the Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager.

Ms Shrem, a Florentine, made her fortune selling Gucci in the US.

From her cv: ‘During the 1960s through the early 1970s, she had her own company in Florence designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling luxury clothing in the United States and Europe. After a divorce that left her with only $2,000 to her name, she fell in love again and, following her heart, moved to the United States. “When I first moved to the United States,” she says, “I went to the opera as often as I could but could only afford the standing room tickets. Opera gave me so much inspiration at that time. I waited outside the stage door entrance to the San Francisco Opera to meet the singers and over the years developed relationships with opera luminaries such as Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and Renée Fleming.”‘

Kindly remind your social secretary to make the necessary adjustments to correspondence with Mr Gelb.


  • E.R. says:


  • Mark Desiderio says:

    This is so inside as to be incomprehensible.

  • Chicagorat says:

    While Mr. Gelb seems to be embracing his new name (i.e., Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager), others show ingratitude and prefer to bite the hand that feeds them.

    Take Chicago, for example. Nothing would unleash Muti’s ire more than addressing him as the “Zell Music Director”. He really hates that, to the extent that he demanded that the odious word be removed from printed programs on certain European concerts. Why should he be associated with “ignorant rich Americans” and even be named after them?

    But then Muti would probably give anything, do anything (dare we say, he’d even take the n-word out of Verdi’s librettos) to get Zell to pay more millions and renew him as Music Director for one more year, one more semester, one more month. One more day.

    Go figure.

    • GUEST says:

      Hey, Rat: An unscientific appraisal of your comments here would suggest that you don’t care for Maestro Muti. We’ve got it. Now, try singing a new aria for a change.

    • James Weiss says:

      If you knew anything about the Zells – the Trumps of Chicago – you wouldn’t want your name associated with them either. What is it about donors who need their names plastered on everything including the toilets?

      • Lothario Hunter says:

        Oh yes, yes! Muti much preferred to be associated with Putin, whose name and honor conferred on the Maestro (Order of Friendship) was printed on the CSO programs, on Muti’s biography page for a decade, and has been on Muti’s website for years and years! I would brag about that too, I couldn’t help it!

        Wouldn’t you take Putin over the Zells, too?

      • MB says:

        I think that in his despicable worldview, the Zells have an original sin much more irredeemable than being rich or being vulgar.

      • Chantatur says:

        Thanks for your explanation for non-Chicagoans. I was wondering why a lakeside Austrian ski resort, however wealthy and generous, would be funding him.

    • Willy says:

      We get it – everything in your life is six separations from Muti but dear god I’d speak to a professional about this obsession.

    • Mark Desiderio says:

      Chicagorat, see a shrink, please.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    What experience does she have of working in opera?

    • OPRABUFF says:

      What experience do any of these people have? Long gone are the days of really involved boards, lapping up the arts, and the talent ! They actually wanted creative/ artistic consultants on executive boards ! It’s the “new Met” now

  • lamed says:

    When an arts organization goes from endowing chairs for musicians to endowing chairs for execs, it speaks volumes of their values and priorities.

  • Jon Eiche says:

    Thank God for Ms. Schrem and all such benefactors. Without them, the arts would not exist. I used to think that no one loved music more than the musicians themselves, who give their lives for the joy of performing, but now I think some patrons may exceed them in devotion, receiving only an abstract return on their material investment. And if they garner a little name recognition thereby, all the better to inspire others.

    • James Weiss says:

      A little name recognition is one thing but insisting your name be plastered on everything is something else. How about giving because you love the art form and it’s the right thing to do and refuse the recognition?

  • Buck Hill Boy says:

    Off the rails…

  • David says:


  • David A. Boxwell says:

    The David A. Boxwell Family Circle Men’s Room Stall #2.

  • Una says:

    Can’t imagine anyone’s job title or description being clothed in such a pretentious fashion except in America! Maybe a hall, but not a job.

    It says: thanks to a generous new naming gift from an important donor, Peter Gelb’s position as the head of the Met will now be called Peter Gelb, the Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager. How clumsy is that a title! Why can’t she just give the money and be done with it? But then I’m British and we just don’t do that.

    “She met at the time with General Manager Peter Gelb about the gift. Impressed with his managerial acumen and surprised that the General Manager’s role was not already a named position, she decided to commit to an additional $5 million naming gift. Effective immediately, the leader of the Metropolitan Opera is officially the Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager. Her hope is that the gift will lead others to consider naming other positions at the Met and elsewhere, a tribute not just to an institution, but to the talent behind the organization that allows it to thrive.

    “Peter has what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult jobs in all of the arts,” Manetti Shrem declares. “I like people with bold points of view, and I’ve been impressed with his fearlessness as General Manager, especially during the pandemic. Organizations can disappear in the blink of an eye, but he was able to lead effectively at a time of great uncertainty.”

    So, there you go for those of you like me who didn’t understand what’s going on. Peter hasn’t had a sex change!

    • Singeril says:

      So effectively that singers (who had put in work and expense) as well as musicians, stagehands, and others didn’t receive the same kind of compensation that was afforded at the other companies. So effective that he has now cut the salaries (up to 10-14 percent) of artists (even though their expenses are now higher). And, this comes after the devastating blow that most artists felt during the pandemic of having NO income for nearly two years. Many left take business entirely. So effective that Huge swaths of seats went unsold BEFORE the pandemic. Wow…I’m glad that there isn’t more effective work being done at all arts organizations.

      • OPRABUFF says:

        After said negotiations, he continues to screw the pooch… wants more cuts! Is cramming performers and crew into fewer and fewer rehearsals. The pressure and danger is palpable and depressing. It’s dark, scenery is old. Injuries occur way too frequently but you’ll never read about them in the NYT.
        How about this for a conflict of interest; PROSKAUER ROSE FAMED UNION BUSTING ATTORNEY BERNIE PLUM, who has lead all Gelbs negotiating teams against the entire Met labor force, has been hired as Gelbs full time legal counsel

  • GUEST says:

    She looks nice. Like a kinder, gentler Leona Helmsley.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Agreed, and she sounds like a nice person and probably is. On the other hand, a kinder gentler Leona Helmsley would still be a harridan. If you ever had any direct dealings with Mrs. Helmsley, you would agree.

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  • MMcGrath says:

    The Sybil Harrington Grand Tier. OK. But a GM paid for by a grateful opera buff and benefactor? An extension of a great American tradition, or isn’t that a bit of a potential conflict?

    The fact that Gelb wants to be known as the “Shrem GM” is just a formality, I assume. If not, bring in the shrink.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      What conflict? It’s the way nonprofits are funded in the US. Nearly 70% of gifts come from individuals (higher if you include bequests). Combined, over $425 billion in 2021.

      Also, why does Sybil Harrington get a pass on the naming of the Sybil B. Harrington auditorium? She, too, was an opera buff and benefactor. The only difference is that Mrs. Harrington inherited her wealth; Mrs. Schrem earned hers.

      The generosity of both deserves to be honored.

  • Maria says:

    “Good evening, I”m the Maria Manetti Shrem usher, you can check your coat with my colleague the Maria Manetti Shrem coat checker, if you like to visit the rest room, the Maria Manetti Shrem rest room attendant can assist you…”

  • OPRABUFF says:

    Peter Gelb is, (to anyone who actually understands the arts, an opera company, the duties of the General Manager of a major cultural institution) so grossly incompetent, he should have been replaced a decade ago. It is only due to those even less informed, and even more arrogant, the tiny aging clique, known as the “executive board of directors”, that he is still steadily wasting their money on little to big projects, that end up in the dumpster ( the board doesn’t know about this; he charges those expenses to labor) and avant- garde productions, or pseudo Zeffirelli style ones, that have poor shelf life. How these “business people” haven’t figured out the correlation between the catastrophic drop in opera success and earth shattering RISE IN COSTS since Joseph VOLPE left, and Peter Gelbs, movie mania, is a conundrum the likes of Vanity Fair and New Yorker will be discussing down the road, when he destroys the company once and for all. This will hurt Broadway.

  • GCMP says:

    Wonder what the expiration date is. These “naming rights” are usually no longer perpetual, as organizations want to hit money up for more donors. So usually they say for 10-15 years, or something like that. At the CSO, Orchestra Hall is the Theodore Thomas Memorial, so they like to call it Symphony Center now. And the Auditorium is named after the Wylers, who funded a renovation in the 1960s. So when Mrs. A. Watson Armour III promised them mega-millions, all they had left was to name the stage after her. And all the balconies were named for donors but those all expire so when the new music director decides we need yet another renovation they can all be re-named.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Organizations learned their lesson about “in perpetuity” (ask the NY Phil). Yes, nearly all donor agreements for naming opportunities now specify the duration.

      Like it or not, it’s baked in the US system of funding. There are exceptions–in NYC Michael Bloomberg has given tons anonymously–but for others there usually is some form of recognition involved.

      Without significant public funding, why the hell not? We should be grateful, not castigate generous donors.

  • Simpson says:

    The management at the Met is so smart and forward looking! I would like to start bringing my son (who is in middle school) to the opera to help him learn love the genre. We do not live in NYC, it is a fairly long drive for us. There is no ticket discount program for kids, none. I called the Met, but all they have is for college students. It is expensive for our family to get decent seats at the Met, it would be helpful to at least let the kid have a discount. Does Manager Gelb care about future opera fans? Apparently not in the slightest. Oh well.

  • Steve Kirby says:

    I believe that a few years ago Covent Garden named its scheme for employing young singers after a millionaire donor. Then he was bankrupted & of course the scheme had to be renamed. Sorry I have forgotten his name.

  • George Toledo says:

    What? Did Peter Gelb have a sex change operation?