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New York´s Met opera house on
edge of precipice, says Peter Gelb

Guardian [UK], by Tom Service and Maev Kennedy

Original Article

Posted By:Ribicon, 6/6/2014 10:08:23 PM

Grand opera is dying along with its increasingly ancient audience, according to Peter Gelb, general manager of one of the grandest operas in the world, the Metropolitan in New York. The renowned 3,800-seat opera house is fighting a losing battle on many fronts, and could face bankruptcy within three years, he says – and the crisis he sees in his own company could be a warning to many other opera houses. A long-running dispute with unions, which are threatening strike action, is only one of his many problems. Box office receipts are flatlining, and seat occupancy was down to 80%

Comments:
Another union success story. Metropolitan Opera background singers average salary is $200,000 per year; no mention of what stagehands and everyone else rakes in. No mention also of the effect this lavish overhead has on ticket prices, or the connection between unaffordable tickets, plus outrageous parking fees, etc, on dwindling audiences.

      


Post Reply  

Reply 1 - Posted by: lazyman, 6/6/2014 10:13:54 PM     (No. 9876007)

Of course once you price the people out they can´t afford to expose themselves to this beauty.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: rushie, 6/6/2014 10:17:04 PM     (No. 9876012)

Unions kill another business. I listen to the Met every Saturday during the season. Even though they seem to have a liberal bent, I still love listening.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: SkyTexas, 6/6/2014 10:20:21 PM     (No. 9876014)

Houston Grand Opera is doing just fine.
Of course, they don´t pay their stage manager $300,000 per year like New York does

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Reply 4 - Posted by: Michaelus, 6/6/2014 10:21:52 PM     (No. 9876015)

They put on Luc Bondy´s obscene Tosca and I have not given them a penny since. I do not care if they close the place down and sell the ugly Chagall´s to some rich tech guy in Silicon Valley for his pool house.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: NorthernDog, 6/6/2014 10:39:13 PM     (No. 9876030)

$200K to play the flute or oboe a few times/week? No wonder unions no longer care about Lunchbucket Joe.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: IowaDad, 6/6/2014 10:42:03 PM     (No. 9876031)

pure propaganda to scare the unions, with contract negotiations coming up soon to reverse vast excesses at the Met.
But their productions and performances have been fabulous. Hoards of young people are seeing the HD broadcasts. Regional opera is booming. The repertoire is expanding. The future of opera is more secure now than it has ever been.



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Reply 7 - Posted by: Knotwyrkin, 6/6/2014 10:52:50 PM     (No. 9876036)

I went to my first opera ever two weeks ago. 12th row back from the rear wall of the balcony, $120 per ticket. It was interesting. What was really amazing was that the introduction given by the opera house director included the fact that 3500 staff were needed to put on the production for four nights. That is some overhead!

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Reply 8 - Posted by: texaspast, 6/6/2014 11:19:25 PM     (No. 9876052)

I´ve worked with professional opera folks, having been in quite a few regional productions. Most folks have no idea how much work, talent, skill and discipline it takes to be good enough to earn a living at it. And they pay their dues, too - spending years going from production to production all over the country; spending a month in one place staging and rehearsing one show while learning another one (´no, we´ll be using the Schirmer version, in English, with these revisions of the printed translation´) they´ll be performing in next month 500 miles away. It has to be your life if you are going to be good. And if you get to the Met, even in the chorus, you are GOOD and also LUCKY - you know the right person, you just happened to audition when they needed just your style or look, or you met the right person at just the right time at that party you begged an invitation to. I don´t begrudge a singer $200,000 a year to be in the chorus of the Met. And the stage manager is even more important. They actually RUN the show. Most regional opera companies hire itinerant stage managers who, like the performers, go from show to show all over the country. But $200,000 for a flute player? Get real.

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Reply 9 - Posted by: balogreene, 6/6/2014 11:20:24 PM     (No. 9876053)

When I lived in NYC I went to City Opera. Granted I left in ´98, but I paid $75 for 6 operas, nosebleed seats. And they had supra-titles above the stage, so I always knew what was going on. $120 for rear seats seems way excessive. But, it is beautiful.

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Reply 10 - Posted by: mnwxyz, 6/6/2014 11:22:39 PM     (No. 9876055)

If you read the story to the end, & look at the revenue sources for foreign opera houses, the reason the Met is in trouble & the foreign opera houses aren´t is clearly... huge govt subsidies for the foreign opera houses!

Personally, I´d rather pay taxes to subsidize the Met than NPR.

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Reply 11 - Posted by: snakeoil, 6/7/2014 12:03:45 AM     (No. 9876064)

Main problem opera has is trying to change to appeal to young people, etc. The latest Met productions of Tosca and Rigoletto are hideous and I won´t listen or watch. We were told that baseball was a goner because of declining attendance, over paid players, and soaring ticket prices. The Met still sells out many performances and begging for money is one thing they are good at. My opera DVDs will satisfy my need.

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Reply 12 - Posted by: Topic Thunder, 6/7/2014 12:05:50 AM     (No. 9876065)

No more Rice Krispies
We´ve run out of Rice Krispies
My tears will not stop
Until I hear Snap, Crackle, Pop!

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Reply 13 - Posted by: akudaq, 6/7/2014 2:13:35 AM     (No. 9876089)

For you, #12, and all who remember this gem. I got a good smattering of classical music between commercials such as this, and Bugs Bunny cartoons.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvYFxCwojcI

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Reply 14 - Posted by: Charactercounts, 6/7/2014 4:37:50 AM     (No. 9876102)

#12, This is the cereal that´s shot from guns.

OP, From what I´ve heard, the stagehands are a very tight union (fathers/sons/relatives) and they make as much as those singers.

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Reply 15 - Posted by: samnj, 6/7/2014 9:00:19 AM     (No. 9876259)

Same problem in the world of jazz. Go to a jazz concert and you´ll see more walkers, wheelchairs and scooters than you´ve ever seen before.

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Reply 16 - Posted by: lostinmassachusetts, 6/7/2014 10:23:21 AM     (No. 9876362)

Start by getting of the extortionist unions and maybe costs will come in line with revenues. I love opera, but I cannot afford the inflated ticket prices.

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Reply 17 - Posted by: BigGeorgeTX, 6/7/2014 3:30:13 PM     (No. 9876641)

The sad thing about the arts is they´re heavily subsidized, but far beyond the financial means of most people. Beautiful, yes, but they should be underwritten by the patrons. Underwriting the playgrounds of the wealthy, including venues of professional sports, is not the job of taxpayers.

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Reply 18 - Posted by: ladydawgfan, 6/7/2014 5:25:40 PM     (No. 9876727)

OTOH, I live 90 minutes south of Montreal and the exquisite L´Opera de Montreal. Prices are extremely reasonable, whether for a season ticket or for individual shows, and parking is below the Place des Artes and CHEAP. Supertitles are in both French and English and the ushers make latecomers stand in the back of the theatre until a break in the action instead of letting them climb over their seatmates and block their view. I love attending the opera there.

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Reply 19 - Posted by: mitzi, 6/7/2014 6:09:10 PM     (No. 9876768)

The ticket prices aren´t bad. My sister has been a subscriber as long as I remember. No parking problem ... they take the LIRR into the City.

Check their website ...


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