Breaking: MET Orchestra Accuse Peter Gelb Of Mismanagement

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 19 June 2014 | 12:52:00 am

And they do so in a rather detailed 14 page report. Some surprising statistics for the latest MET Ring in the back

MET OPERA ORCHESTRA AND LOCAL 802 AFM RELEASE REPORT TO MET OPERA BOARD ASSERTING MISMANAGEMENT ON PART OF GENERAL MANAGER PETER GELB 
"Peter Gelb has recently begun stating “opera is dying,” and that we must therefore cut labor costs. However, the Met’s box office numbers reveal a striking and contradictory story"
Statement from Met Orchestra:

“The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra rejects Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb's arguments that the Met's recent financial troubles are the result of high labor costs. We believe that the Met's financial problems are the direct result of a management which seems unable to accept that its current business model is failing, and unwilling to adapt to evidence that its current spending policies are irresponsible and unsustainable. During the Gelb years, the Met's operating budget has increased by nearly 50 percent (over $105 million), and these new expenses have obviously not resulted in commensurate increases in revenue.
With regard to the Met's stagnant box office, we also wholly reject Mr. Gelb's often cited excuse that opera is a "dinosaur” and that its audience is dying and destined to further dwindle. We believe instead that the reason the Met's box office has stagnated in spite of the huge sums spent on marketing and new productions is that Peter Gelb's artistic choices have been badly received by both reviewers and audiences alike, which the attached report documents using box office data provided by the Met.

Even if after an objective analysis the Met can be said to be facing some degree of financial challenge (in large part due to Gelb's lavish overspending on unpopular productions) we know what the solution isn’t. It isn’t slashing the compensation of the musicians and the chorus. If this happens, it will be impossible for the Met to recruit and retain the best musicians in the world, who, along with the chorus and other skilled labor comprising the company, are essential to maintaining its artistic excellence.

We believe that the Met is suffering from a crisis of management, both financial and artistic, whose guiding vision is limited by a fundamental belief that opera, the Met's only real product, is increasingly irrelevant in today's world.

We believe that the Met is suffering from a crisis of management, both financial and artistic, whose guiding vision is limited by a fundamental belief that opera, the Met's only real product, is increasingly irrelevant in today's world. We don't believe that a management struggling under those limitations is capable of leading the Met out of its current problems, let alone planning and working towards a future where opera and the Met once again thrive and prosper.”

Peter Gelb’s explanation for the slight downward trend of the box office has been to blame the art form, blame the audience (for dying!), and blame young children for their short attention spans. Denigrating his own product, he claimed “Grand opera is in itself a kind of a dinosaur of an art form.” But General Managers around the world are disagreeing with Gelb, and their box offices prove it.

To date, the most expensive production in the history of the Met has been the LePage/Gelb Ring Cycle. There have been contradictory quotes in the press as to the cost of the Ring Cycle: the New York Times listed it as $16 million, whereas the Wall Street Journal cited it as $19.6 million.

Despite the cost and overwhelmingly negative reviews, Gelb said, “I have to stand by the Ring…the audience came out for it. The only way you measure success is if people go to it.” However, more than any other Peter Gelb New Production, the audience most decidedly did not come back for it: in aggregate, the LePage/Gelb premieres did worse than the previous Schenk revivals. Worse, the Gelb Revivals declined steeply and dramatically: the most severe numbers are for Gotterdammerung, which premiered at only 88% and dropped to 67% the very next year.  Beyond Gelb’s dubious financial stewardship, this speaks directly to his artistic credibility: the Ring was his signature production initiative, and the numbers show it was an artistic disaster.


TO READ THE MET ORCHESTRA'S REPORT ON PETER GELB'S MISMANAGEMENT CLICK HERE