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The Met: A Three-Part Series

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Person to person

duelling_petersFinally, the background to the story that rocked the operatic world earlier this summer. Peter Stein withdrew from the Met’s Boris Godunov “because he felt offended by his treatment at the United States Consulate in Berlin when he applied for a work visa and by a lack of sympathy from Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, over confrontations with bureaucracy. ” [NYT]

84 comments

  • NYCOQ says:

    Okay -- I must be severely jet-lagged. That should have read: got the production, production team and….

    The other typos I am just too tired to worry about.

  • manou says:

    Wrong thread (but there are 11 to go before “Rome (If you want to”) -- according to Opera Chic, you can see the Domingo Rigoletto here :

    http://musik.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/19/0,1872,7159283,00.html?dr=1

  • rogwood says:

    Pierre Boulez, in Joshua Jampol’s book “Living Opera”: “Once I went to Chicago. The customs man (sic!) looked at my passport and said, “What is your business in Chicago?” I said, “I’m going to conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.” He said, “What is that?”

  • Bluessweet says:

    Romania? You say Romania? I have friends, a couple, who are native Romanians. They float back and forth without seeming to have difficulty (now living in the US) and the one has some business to attend to and spends weeks at a time in Romania. They have even brought an aged mother to the US for a visit. I have no idea why they don’t seem to have the kind of problem that was reported here.

    I do know of an Israeli who lived here for three years and wanted to get a green card but it took longer than the stay to get an appointment, so the idea was abandoned. Then, on a short visa stay, that individual tried to renew his now highly secured with holograms and sealing, etc. Driver’s license and was told his visa stay was too short to allow the renewal.

    You ought to have been with me when I entered Nigeria in 1977!

    So, yes, there are problems and not all the regulations seem equitable.

    On the other hand, anyone with the intelligence and energy to direct a production at the MET (and for a reasonable stipend, I might add) should, in my opinion, be competent to arrange or have his affairs arranged for him without demands for kid glove treatment that just is not available.

    I’m neither a Gelb fan nor an enemy but, when reading of the imperiousness of past Met directors and their supposed competence, I have nothing to complain about. There are new productions, they seem to be at the hands of top artistic talent and the MET seems to be doing as well as any other US company at the box. Is he doing the kind of job need to ensure that the endowment is growing? I am not competent to say. That would be in the realm of auditors and prognosticators about future fund raising gifts, some of it quite speculative in nature.

  • iltenoredigrazia says:

    It occurs to me that this may be a parallel situation to the “firing” of Callas by Bing fifty years ago. Artist doesn’t really want to come and puts up obstacle and requirement after another. In this case artist withdraws himself. Artist publicizes complaints and portrays himself/herself as victim. Manager tries to make the best of the situation by publicizing the situation and asserting his authority. Publicity is plus for the Met and the new production. If the production fails, well, the management tried its best. It was Stein’s fault.

    Now all we need is someone to yell “Bravo Stein” during the first performance.

    • NYCOQ says:

      Iltenore -- the most diffcult of celebrities use the matters to satisfy their ego. “Just how many hoops can I make them jump through to want me?” happens waaaay too much in this business. It’s a weird thing dealing with artists. And sometimes you have to say to yourself and the artists is that it’s just not worth it. I doubt that Stein did this to pull out. There are people are just so self-involved that it actually doesn’t occur to them that there demands are unreasonable. Oh if I could only name names and speak of specific incidences….

  • LittleMasterMiles says:

    OT, except that the ad is right here on this page. Full Sail University’s website promises that you can:

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  • ines says:

    Karita Mattila said a couple of years ago in an interview
    about the Abbado-Stein (and tenor Alagna) Boccanegra-- a great production btw— that she was very busy keeping
    all these boys reasonably calm…
    She is 50 tomorrow and starts celebrating tonight
    with VLL at the Proms (on BBC)

  • ADH says:

    Prima Donna…..1st lady of the stage. Talk about a neurotic a_ _hole.

  • NYCOQ says:

    @19.3.2.1 The Romanian artist should obtain a work visa to perform with the organization rather than a tourist visa. If I am not mistaken the visa will allow her to travel within the country for a certain time frame. She can use that time to visit her family here.

    @19.3.2.2 La Cieca -- If I can get a letter from the Prime Minister’s offices of various countries to expedite the customs procedure for band and crew members (let alone the star of the group) then Gelb can certainly contact the State Department to insure the safe passage for Stein. If (and I do mean if) it is a MEGA celebrity then officials can actually be summoned to to meet the celebrity at the airport to facilitate easy entry. Does anybody here think that Beyonce or Lady Gaga are standing in line with the plebes? Certianly not.

    • oedipe says:

      Unfortunately, work visas are even harder to get for a non-Westerner than a tourist visa. But thanks anyway for the thought.

  • NYCOQ says:

    In follow up to my last post. It’s a simple matter of calling Mercedes Bass’(or someone else on the board) team and getting the right names and telephone numbers. Gelb wanted him to pull out by not going that extra little step to utilize his vast contacts to make what Stein requested happen. Again, I side with Gelb. If an artist is that difficult concerning something as simple as a visa then I can only imagine the havoc that he would have created upon arriving at the Met. I would love to have been on the email trail of that contract negotiation process