Cher Public

Local man

After four years of delegating union talks to his predecessor, Joseph Volpe, Met honcho Peter Gelb will now lead negotiations himself. [New York Times]

  • sterlingkay

    Well….no doubt the unions are not happy about this. I’ve never understood how Joe Volpe developed the reputation for being a “master negotiator” with the unions. He basically always gave them everything they wanted! It always struck me as a conflict of interest that he was negotiating the contract of many of his friends and family members— and he certainly always took very good care of them at the negotiating table. I’m sure Alan Gordon is not thrilled at the prospect that the Gravy Train might be over with. My prediction: this will not end well.

    • redbear

      Fact -- Vienna’s seat occupancy rate was 99.6% last season.
      The financing of American operas and orchestras have been under pressure for some years -- since the 2008 crisis. Opera audiences have been in decline since then (NEA stats). I watched with dismay the negotiations with the Minnesota Orchestra. The union would not, like many other orchestras in the US, take any kind of pay cut (although their salaries reflect the salad days of the 60s). They blamed management when many regular donors have found other things to support. The MO musicians finally, after more than a year, realized that the salad days were over and the orchestra’s very existance was in doubt. Is the same thing in the cards for the Met? Who knows since we no nothing about the financial situaiton of the Met. Where is Snowden when we need him?

      • pobrediablo

        No, the Met will never get to this. If there will be one single opera company in the US, it will be the Met.
        The occupancy at the performances I attended, was above 90% with empty seats only in the most expensive dress circle and parterre.
        What they need to do is reach out to tourists more. There is no reason why they don’t offer subtitles in French and especially Russian, for example.

  • Gualtier M

    Maybe we will get backstage union strikes again -- a regular feature during the Bing era.

    • sterlingkay

      I’m afraid there is a good chance of that happening….especially if the union continues to fight things like Sunday matinees…..

      • I thought we’d been over the whole Sunday matinee thing before. What day of the week would you suggest as a permanent dark night, plus a day on which no stage rehearsals can ever be held?

        • sterlingkay

          Mondays could easily be days off—- as long as you make Sunday a full day of work (like Saturday), meaning you would have stage rehearsals on Sunday evening. Many opera houses do this. Monday onstage rehearsals last 5 hours, you can make that up onstage on Sundays from 7 to midnight.

          • sterlingkay

            Also, the whole notion that there need to be 7 performances every week needs to be re-considered, IMO. The audience is not there to fill 4,000 seats seven times a week anymore….and it doesn’t allow for adequate rehearsal time onstage. But I don’t expect the Unions to be amenable to that, either.

            • When was there the audience to fill 4,000 seats seven times a week? A short time during the 1990s when the Met was doing Zeffirelli extravaganzas for tourists, but what other time?

          • Many opera houses do this.

            Many opera houses do a matinee on Saturday, changeover, a Saturday night performance, changeover again, a Sunday afternoon performance, changeover again, and then, at the very end of the work week, a rehearsal that lasts until midnight?

            Do you in your wildest dreams think the Met is going to get the chorus or the orchestra to agree to this? Do you even as a joke think that you could have a productive rehearsal after the company has performed three different operas in less than 30 hours?

            • sterlingkay

              City Opera used to do that all the time during the 70’s and 80’s— they often did Saturday and Sunday matinees. That is why you have additional members of the orchestra and chorus—- no member of either does EVERY rehearsal and performance. But you’re probably right, it would probably be a non-starter for a union that believes Sundays off are a birthright.

            • You may not have noticed, but the City Opera doesn’t exist any more. They ran a much shorter season than the Met and didn’t attempt to do the breadth of repertoire or the regular 7-performance weeks the Met does. And they sure as hell didn’t try to call rehearsals at midnight on Sunday.

              So: give me an example of a currently functioning opera company that does a regular schedule of six or seven opera performances a week (no ballet) and does two performances on Saturday and a performance followed by a rehearsal on Sunday.

            • sterlingkay

              I know that I saw a Saturday eve, Sun matinee and Sunday evening performances in Vienna last year but, you’re right, they do have dark nights during the week (or ballet nights). As I said, maybe the answer is to, in fact, not expect the MET to do 7 performances for that long a season. Every time I have been to the MET this season on a Monday or Tuesday evening it’s been like a ghost town. You can’t continue operating on a schedule that was developed to cater to a much larger opera-going audience. Those people aint there no more and the Unions have to start realizing that cutbacks (and change) are inevitable.

            • pobrediablo

              At the same time, Vienna offers performances over the summer. MET goes to sleep in May.

            • marshiemarkII

              Diablina, are sure about that? I spent the summer of 2006 and 2008 in Vienna and the house was dark as a cave. And the pit orchestra, aka the Vienna Philharmonic was firmly ensconced in Salzburg. I think you must mean the Bavarian State Opera that has the Festspiele in the summer, no?

            • Vienna is about half the size of the Met and includes a very large state subsidy in its budget. It alternates ballet with opera. And, more to the point, they don’t have rehearsals at midnight on Sunday night.

              As for the Monday and Tuesday low attendance, New York is still in a recession, the US is still in a recession, most of the world is still in a recession. Wbo knows, this may turn out to be the new normal, but I think cutting back on the season just because you happen to see a few empty seats is premature. (And I can tell you that when I was going frequently as a civilian to the Met in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were whole rows of empty seats night after night.)

              Hey, but any excuse to stick it to the unions, right?

            • pobrediablo

              Marsholetta, querida, I know for a fact Wiener performs at least in all of June. Not certain about the rest.

            • pobrediablo

              Cieca, don’t scold me. I was merely mentioning that we could use more performances in the summer. I’m not at all familiar with anything union related.

              And what do you mean as a civilian? Do you now visit in camouflage? :P

            • Wiener Staatsoper season is 03 Sep 2013 -- 30 Jun 2014. The company does some early Sunday matinees along with Sunday night performances, but I can’t find any Saturday matinee.

              The season consists of 233 opera performances vs. 214 for the Met.

            • pobrediablo, I wasn’t scolding you.

            • sterlingkay

              I just checked the Vienna schedule for this week. It’s pretty crazy:
              Sat. Eve DON GIOVANNI
              Sun. Matinee RUSALKA
              Sun. Evening TOSCA
              Mon. Evening COSI
              Tues. Evening DON GIOVANNI
              Wed eve TOSCA
              Thursday eve. BORIS GODUNOV
              Friday eve ELISIR
              Saturday eve CAV/PAG
              Sun. eve RUSALKA

              When do these people sleep??? :) I would bet a lot of those Sunday evening performances let out at close to midnight.

            • And the brilliance of some of those casts!

              COSÌ FAN TUTTE
              Patrick Lange | Dirigent
              Barbara Frittoli | Fiordiligi
              Margarita Gritskova | Dorabella
              Alessio Arduini | Guglielmo
              Benjamin Bruns | Ferrando
              Sylvia Schwartz | Despina
              Pietro Spagnoli | Don Alfonso

            • sterlingkay

              True…not exactly Golden Age. And I can’t imagine they got a whole lot of rehearsal time on stage with that schedule.

            • oedipe

              Indeed. Nothing like the Golden Age casts of the Met Cosi or Fledermaus.

            • quoththemaven

              I’m not entirely sure that Sylvia Schwartz, Vienna’s Despina, is worthy of our sneers. I heard her a few seasons back as part of a Quasthoff-led quartet singing the Liebeslieder Walzer at Carnegie, and she was really fine. I’d love to hear more.

            • oedipe

              Alessio Arduini is also a gifted, up-and-coming young singer. But he doesn’t sing in America, so he is irrelevant.

            • redbear

              Both the VPO (also the pit orchestra at the opera) and the Paris Opera orchestra have about 160 contracted players -- that is essentially two orchestras that can be in different places at once. Both have active ballet seasons. Also, the VPO has musicians on call on when the VPO is on tour doing Bruckner and the opera is doing Wagner, etc.

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

              For clarification, Wiener Staatsoper and Volksoper Wien used to open on 01 September and run through 30 June. A few years ago, they pushed back the opening performances a few days, and maybe have an “open house” or some other PR event in the first days of September, and then the season begins. Opening nights are not treated as special events here.

              The new (2010), independent Wiener Staatsballett (the Wiener Staatsopernballett no longer exists) gives about 50 performances each season.

              Theater an der Wien operates on the stagione system (thank bloody Christ) and usually runs at least one production in the summer months when Staatsoper and Volksoper are shut. They usually give six performances of each staged opera (plus lots of one-offs of rare works in concert).

              Matinees are not what you think: it is the Wiener term for an afternoon introductory talk with perhaps some musical illustrations given shortly before the premiere of a new production or important revival; it is NOT a staged, full-scale performance. So when Sterlingkay lists a Sunday matinee of “Rusalka” for tomorrow afternoon, it’s actually a lecture to prepare for the premiere of the new production which opens the following Sunday night (I will be there). Sometimes “matinees” are given for special events, like Christa Ludwig’s 85th birthday.

              Since 2010, there is a series of Sunday morning (11:00) concerts by young ensemble members in the Gustav-Mahler Saal, but usually limited to no more than two singers and a piano. Also new is a series of Sunday morning concerts by a chamber group from the Philharmoniker. These were initiated by Dominique Meyer, the Intendant who replaced Ioan Holender in September 2010.

              I agree that casting can be dicey. I was at “Don Giovanni” tonight (which was sold to the rafters for the Villazón groupies) and some of the performances (particularly the Leporello and the Masetto) were ghastly, and Mr. Villazón was just sad, but later in the week, Martina Serafin is the Tosca with Massimo Giordano and Bryn Terfel (yes, it is still the 1958 productions!); “Don Giovanni” has Adam Plachetka, Malin Hartelius and, for what it’s worth, Villazón; Frittoli is out of “Cosí” (replaced by a young ensemble member), but Bruns, Arduini and Schwartz are all young and quite wonderful; we do the original version of “Boris” (135 minutes, no break) and it’s Furlanetto; “L’elisir” has Lawrence Brownlee and another wonderful young ensemble member, Chen Reiss; the Pag” features the role debut (!) of Neil Shicoff as Canio; and the “Rusalka” is the opening night of a new production with Stoyanova and Michael Schade.

              Performances for standard-length operas usually start at 19:00. Wagner operas usually start at 17:00. Sunday performances sometimes begin earlier, at 17:00 or 16:00. Nothing runs to Midnight, on any night.

              Yes, rehearsal time for revivals (the vast majority of the season) is insanely limited and, I think, contributes to the mediocrity of a lot of the season, and keeps away bigger names. I heard that for her one and only performance as Rosina, Joyce di Donato had a total of three hours of rehearsal, none of it onstage, and it’s a very complicated production.

              But yeah: ticket sales are at 99%.

            • sterlingkay

              Thanks very much for the clarification, Jungfer! Your breakdown of this week’s VIENNA schedule makes total sense. It’s still pretty amazing that there doesn’t seem to be a day off this whole week. There’s an opera performance every single day!

            • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

              Sterlingkay, Volksoper has much the same sort of schedule as Staatsoper (a performance every night of the week), although they mix operetta, opera, musicals, and dance, and right now Theater an der Wien has just given its second performance of “I due Foscari” with Arturo Chacón-Cruz and Plácido Domingo and is in rehearsals for Robert Carsen’s “Platée” which allegedly will star Parterre Box favorite Simone Kermes before the production travels to Paris and New York. Theater an der Wien has also taken over Kammeroper as a second, smaller house and just did a superb “Cenerentola” (earlier in the season they had the modern-day premiere of an Alan Curtis reconstruction of a lost Händel opera), plus they have solo concerts. Then there’s Neue Oper Wien and sireneOperntheater, not to mention Musikverein and Konzerthaus, where in October I heard the Mariinsky do a magnificent uncut “Les Troyens” (five hours) with Gergiev. (By the way, Wien’s official anti-Putin march was yesterday and included a stop by Staatsoper.)

            • MontyNostry

              Jungfer -- I saw yesterday that Chen Reiss is doing a recital at Wigmore Hall. I was thinking about going … I assume you would recommend it!

        • armerjacquino

          Would a dark night be necessary? And I’m also confused about the Sunday night rehearsals you mention. It would be a shame if a way to present Sunday matinees couldn’t be found- in my experience they are hugely popular with audiences and performers alike.

          • operaassport

            This discussion reminds me of that idiot autograph peddler on Opera-l who is always agitating for Sunday matinees and 4pm start times so he can get back to his trailer park in NJ.

            These people don’t live in the real world. Stuff like that will never happen. Give it a rest.

            • armerjacquino

              I guess I’ve never done a Sunday matinee at a massive theatre. I guess I’ve never seen one in the West End. I guess most of Europe isn’t ‘the real world’ because some dick on the Internet says so.

            • operaassport

              We were talking about opera at the MET, not theatre in the West End. Nothing like a complete change of subject to fuel your ignorance filled rant.

            • armerjacquino

              Oh, I get it. So ‘stuff like that’ doesn’t include major theatres or European opera houses and ‘the real world’ means New York. Got it. You’re the ignorant one, sweetheart.

          • As I understand it, the way the schedule is arranged at the Met right now, the main stage is used each weekday for a rehearsal and each evening during the week for a performance, then, on Saturday, there are two stage performances. Sunday is the dark day, with no rehearsal and no performance.

            The combination of a changeover and a performance adds up to one crew shift, so that means that each day there are two shifts. However, as I understand it, the way a “shift” works is that the crew arrives before the performance time, runs the performance, and then sets up for the following performance or rehearsal. Thus, for example, when the day crew arrives on Monday morning, the Rigoletto set is already in place, they run the rehearsal of Rigoletto, take a break, then set up for that evening’s Eugene Onegin. Then the night crew arrives in late afternoon, runs the evening performance of Onegin and then, after the performance, sets up for the following morning’s rehearsal of Madama Butterfly. So, in other words, a “shift” generally consists of not a setup followed by a runthrough, but rather by a runthrough followed by the next opera’s setup. (On the Saturday matinee day, there is no rehearsal, but Saturday night ends with the crew setting up for Monday morning’s rehearsal.)

            For this schedule to work, each day of the six active days of the week there has to be either a rehearsal and a performance or else two performances (or, as happens with a new production is launched, two rehearsals the same day.)

            Now, the issue with a Sunday matinee (which, in New York City, would be somewhere between 3:00 and 5:00 pm) is that it’s extremely difficult to schedule a rehearsal on the same day. There’s not time before, and by the time you did a changeover after a late matinee, you’d be looking at a start time for a Sunday night rehearsal of 9:00 or 10:00 pm. and running past midnight. So there’s no way to schedule a rehearsal on Sunday.

            But, assuming the house is dark on, say, Monday, where is that rehearsal going to be made up? If you schedule a rehearsal during a day when the theater is “dark” (no performance that night) then you introduce the difficulty that there is no regular day off for the chorus. Either the chorus has to be divided into two platoons (those who get Sunday off and those who get a weekday off) or else you’ve got renegotiate their contract so that they get a “floating” day off, Tuesday of one week, followed by Thursday of the next. You throw a similar monkey wrench into the already extremely difficult task of scheduling the orchestra.

            Right now the solution is to have one standard dark day and night at the theater, on a day when people from the crew, chorus and orchestra have the opportunity to be with their families. I think it would be a very tough negotiation to go to them and say, “from now on most of the time you are going to have to work on the day when your spouse and children are at home, and then get a random day off during the week, varying from week to week.” That regular scheduled day off is a perk that people are going to want to be compensated for if they have to give it up, and I can’t argue with that.

            In many ways the Met’s problems are unique: it’s a very long season without ballet programming. As I’ve noted above, the Met does almost as many opera performances in seven months as the Vienna State Opera does in 10.

            I agree that there were be many advantages of offering a Sunday matinee. But it’s not the sort of thing that can happen just by waving a wand: we are talking about a major upheaval to schedules and contracts that are set years in advance.

            • armerjacquino

              Thanks for the explanation, la C. I see the issues, but it’s certainly something worth further investigation (pace idiots and their rantings about ‘the real world’).

            • pobrediablo

              Why is there a need for a rehearsal on Sunday? Assuming, this is not a premiere, they have already performed it a couple of times before.

            • No, the rehearsal would be for a different opera. Right now the Met’s schedule calls for five rehearsals a week onstage. For example, next week at the Met, on Monday morning there is a dress rehearsal for Rusalka and then Tuesday through Friday mornings there are stage rehearsals of Prince Igor. What would happen if the theater were completely closed on, say, Monday of every week would be that the Rusalka rehearsal would have to be moved to the previous Friday and so the revival would have one fewer stage rehearsal. (The alternative would be to have the Rusalka dress rehearsal on Tuesday, but then you rob Igor of one day on stage…)

            • sterlingkay

              The MET schedule presents huge obstacles…no question. Still most theaters and opera companies around the world have performances on Saturday and Sunday because that’s when it’s convenient for audiences. Broadway (and many resident theaters around the country) used to work on a model like the MET’s in the past(Sunday being the day off & a Mon eve performance) and they have slowly moved to scheduling Sunday Matinees & Monday being the day off. There was a lot of resistance from the unions about changing this but they finally had to face reality. Most people who work in the theater professions (aside from the MET) know that they are expected to work on both weekend days and that Monday is their day off. Those people have families, kids etc and they somehow make it work. Is it ideal? No. But if you’re going to be in the entertainment industry, that is the deal. Same for people who work in restaurants.

              For what it’s worth, my solution for the MET would be to have Monday be everyone’s day off and then to have no performances on Tuesday, which would be a full day of rehearsal (to make up for the loss of rehearsal on Monday). That knocks down the number of weekly performances to 6, which the MET should do anyway (and has been doing increasingly in recent years).

              Again, I understand it would not be easy to do— but that’s no reason to dismiss it out of hand.

            • Wait, you’re saying that the solution is remove 30 performances’ worth of income from the Met while costs remain the same, all for the sake of moving one performance a week to a time more attractive for audience members who are so old they are afraid to go out after dark?

              Where exactly do you propose that this $15 -- $20 million dollars’ worth of lost ticket sales is to be recovered? How much do you intend to jack up the prices on your Early Bird Special?

              Honestly, I find really bizarre your attitude of, “oh, I know people have families, and I suppose it’s a pity that the stagehands won’t ever get to see their children except on holidays, but, really, I want to go to the opera on Sunday afternoon, and isn’t that more important?”

            • Indiana Loiterer III

              Broadway (and many resident theaters around the country) used to work on a model like the MET’s in the past (Sunday being the day off & a Mon eve performance) and they have slowly moved to scheduling Sunday Matinees & Monday being the day off.

              Yes, but Broadway and resident theaters are on the stagione system--one production at a time. The Met is a repertory house, which means that they have to juggle eight or nine productions at once during each week (the ones in rehearsal as well as the ones onstage)

            • armerjacquino

              “a time more attractive for audience members who are so old they are afraid to go out after dark?”

              This seems needlessly reductive. All other arguments aside, Sunday matinees tend to draw a younger crowd.

            • sterlingkay

              Well.. I went through the MET schedule and found 15 dark nights during the week (assorted Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays) when there were no performances this season (presumably to do added rehearsals). So we are not talking about losing 30 performances from the current schedule but, rather, losing an additional 15. I think most of those folks would easily switch to Wednesday and Thursday performances. There have been very few sold out performances at the MET this year, so the implication that all that money would be lost is a bit silly.

              If the aim is to cultivate future operagoers, matinees do that better than evening performances. Talk about a “canard”-- the notion that matinees are primarily for old people is ridiculous. Go to Sunday matinees on Broadway and you see tons of young people. Also, it allows people who are visiting New York to see an opera on Sunday rather than lose those tourist dollars to places that are smart enough to perform on Sundays.

              Having worked in opera houses and theaters my whole life, I find the attitude that the MET stagehands have the God-given right to Sundays off ridiculous. It’s hard to think of another major cultural/theatrical institution that does not operate on Sundays….

              Anyway…your arguments will no doubt be brought up by the unions and will no doubt prevail, so this is all academic.

            • Ilka Saro

              The Met obviously runs on a very tight schedule. As someone who has been both an erstwhile performer and erstwhile management, I can say I would DREAD the idea that a revival would get one less rehearsal than a new show. Very risky. Yes, new productions have new demands, but every revivial involves putting new people in at all levels: musicians, stagehands, management. There is no such thing as a completely stable company from year to year, and no amount of professionalism makes up for missed rehearsal where it was needed.

            • Byrnham Woode

              As could be expected, LaCieca has done a fine job of elucidating the difficulties the MET would face in switching to regular Sunday matinees. I suppose it’s still worth an exploration by management and union members, with a target of proposing something three years from now at the next negotiations.

              NY Theater used to be -pretty solidly- a Mon.-Sat. night schedule, with matinees on Wed. and Sat. Years ago the flexibility of performing either once or twice on Sunday came into play -- as long as the week’s total remained 8 performances. Additionally, Actors’ Equity (of which I am an active member) insists that there be no rehearsal following the last performance of the week, or preceeding the first performance of the next week.

              Things are radically different in the opera world, especially a rep company like the MET. Broadway opens a show and then simply performs over and over, with occasional rehearsals for replacements and understudies.

              Not to contradict our fearless leader, I had heard that IATSE crews work some Sundays moving scenery in, out and aeound the opera house. But everyone else, including Admin and costume and scenery workshops are closed. THis may no longer be the case.

    • Sorry, but what “regular feature?” There was a tough negotiation with IATSE that threatened to delay the start of the 1954-55 season, but it was resolved without a strike.*

      Stagehands went locked out at the start of the 1969 season, along with the orchestra. But other than that, I can’t find an actual strike by stagehands during the Bing era. One strike in 22 seasons I don’t think can be called a “regular feature.”

      There’s also the point that labor actions in general were a lot more common in the 1950s and 1960s: transit strikes, newspaper strikes, garbage strikes and quite frequent strikes by unions and guilds against Broadway theater. That just doesn’t happen very often any more, certainly not with the frequency it happened then.

      * Correction: stagehands went out for part of one day, March 8, 1954. Met management filled in for stage crew at a dress rehearsal for Norma, then the stagehands returned for work in time to set up Tannhäuser for that evening. The performance started ten minutes late. Other than that and the 1969 lockout, I can’t find any IATSE actions between 1950 and 1972.

      • “There’s also the point that labor actions in general were a lot more common in the 1950s and 1960s: transit strikes, newspaper strikes, garbage strikes and quite frequent strikes by unions and guilds against Broadway theater. That just doesn’t happen very often any more, certainly not with the frequency it happened then.”

        Yep, and real wages have been stagnant since then. And that, as they used to say, is no accident.

        • I am not saying this is a good thing, I am just stating the fact. In general, unions are not as strong as they were 50 years ago, or in some cases management has figured out how to come up with sufficient money to keep the unions happy.

          • “I am not saying this is a good thing, I am just stating the fact.”

            Agreed. I just think we could all use a lot more strikes these days.

            • operaassport

              A lot more strikes? Yep, that would help. I’m not sure where anyone thinks the money will come from to pay for all that. Most people -- and governments -- are tapped out.

              Strikes will just lead to more disruption and more resentment. It will solve nothing.

            • CwbyLA

              Yep, while most people are tapped out of money, not the top 0.1%

  • The bio on the attorney hired by Gelb indicates to me that he is the kind who will straightforwardly negotiate a contract. As a union, when you’re sitting across the table from a boss attorney, you can never exactly say that the guy is your friend, but it is better if s/he is reasonable in an “old school” way and not an ideological asshole of the stamp that is more common since Reagan. If they have “union avoidance” listed as one of their specialties in their bio, that’s a sign that they’re bad news. This guy, blessedly, does not.

    At the end of the day, of course, it’s the client (the boss) who will set the tone, but some of these more reasonable management-side attorneys will act to rein in their clients who go on the warpath.

    This is all a very superficial reading from me, though. The tea leaves that everyone else sees are probably accurate as well: Gelb feels he has some responsibility to explain his position directly because he is about to propose some steeper-than-usual concessions, because the financial situation is not that great, etc.

    • I should add that the fact the guy is counsel to the NHL might NOT be a good sign, what with the recent lockout. But once again, that was the doing of his client.

      • operaassport

        Lol. Would be really funny if not so narrow minded and sad. Do you seriously think that the union atty is any less any “ideological asshole” than the “boss atty?”

        Or is it okay because it’s your kind of “ideological asshole?”

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    And the reason for this story in the NYT? Another example of how Papa Gelb is pulling strings to promote sonny boy? Hopefully the negotiation will be amicable, rapid and successful. Sunday mattinees at City Opera were often a nice way to extend an operatic weekend and especially popular with audiences members who preferred to return home in daylight.

    • sterlingkay

      I loved those City Opera Sunday matinees, too……

    • operaassport

      Some dogs won’t let go of a bone. If you think Mr. Gelb pulls strings for his son -- or anyone else -- at the Times, you are living in an alternate universe.

    • RosinaLeckermaul

      Actually I can remember when the City Opera did two performances on Sunday — a matinee and an early evening performance. However, I believe they were dark on Monday and Tuesday.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • toitoitoi

    Bing stole that line from Mae West…”Young lady, are you trying to show contempt for this court?!” “No, I’m doin’ my best to hide it.”

    • operaassport

      Mae West’s line is actually “I’m doin’ my best to conceal it.”
      Has a much better sound than hide.

  • manou

    Genius headline -- as usual.

    • manou

      NOT headline -- illustration!

  • redbear

    About the NEA report on sagging audiences for the arts there is a NPR discussion of one hour which discusses all aspects of this troubling trend and how it might be helped.!/story/state-arts-behind-nea-survey/
    With the Carnegie Hall strike, a very large number now know about the extraordinary stagehand salaries (the average was about $400,000?). We also learn that the same union, Local One, also represents stagehands at the Met. There are 15 other unions in play also. Since we know about declining audiences, declining interest in the arts among the middle-aged demographics, declining levels of education in the arts, declining levels of arts reporting, declining levels of contributed income for most arts groups, we should be concerned about the Met’s ability to control expenses and maintain their level of activity. It would not be a leap to suggest that the change in salary rates could be in the talks.
    We also have the example of the Minnesota Orchestra. The musicians’ union refused to help the financially struggling orchestra. There has been a long string of orchestras that have agreeded to cuts in salary and benefits recently to ease the struggle of many orchestras to stay solvent. The MO held out for one year before settling for a cut just a few weeks before their unemployment benefits ran out. It would seem obvious to me that Gelb might be interested in reducing his “fixed” costs for the future. The months between now and the July contract expiration should be as full of drama is that onstage.

    • ianw2

      You probably need to do some more reading if you think the Minnesota Orchestra lock-out (not a strike- they were locked out) was solely due to overpaid musicians. The musicians took a 15% pay cut and the board got 15/200 work rule changes. All it cost them was incalculable community goodwill, a leading music director, several principals, several touring engagement bookings and 15 months of concert season.

      • steveac10

        Not to mention the lockout largely coinciding with a frivolous $50 million dollar renovation of Orchestra Hall which essentially did nothing more than turn an already functional lobby into an event space that can generate extra revenue. The situation in Minneapolis is more about the hubris of a few board members from the financial industry who didn’t give a rat’s ass about music or an orchestra’s true mission. Apparently these days everything needs to turn a profit.

        • ianw2

          Which is the colossal risk of a donations based as opposed to a skills based governance model in a board.

          • redbear

            Salaries of US orchestras were growing in the 60s and 70s and boards were generous. As the interest in classical music in the United States started to dip the organizations -- all of them -- are stressed to keep themselves from folding. Orchestra salaries are, it should be obvious, the chief operating expense of any orchestra. And the members of the Minnesota Orchestra were making about the same salary as members of the Berlin Philharmonic(!) and about twice what musicians of major orchestras in Paris or London earn. The orchestra salary cuts general throughout the US are just a stopgap measure for the next few years as many orchestras move toward extinction. You can live in another, unreal world if you want, but facts are facts.

            • Well, finally we get to the point of redbear’s blustering: how unfair it is for Americans to make a lot of money while poor starving Parisians have to struggle by on barely a sou.

            • redbear

              You love the idea that Gelb makes three or four times what his European equals make! Why not? He’s an American! All the time he does nothing artistic except import productions from those under-paid idiots. That kind of shitty thinking means what? What is has produced: Alex Ross counts 11 full time classical music journalists in the US. The model you love is not working and as long as you pretend it is someone else’s fault the worse it gets.