Cher Public

Only connect…

Independent auditor chosen by the Met, AGMA and Local 802 to report on the company’s finances, Eugene Keilin, is a “generous” donor to the Met, giving at least $25,000 in 2011-2012 according to that season’s Annual Report. (See page 42.)

Mr. Keilin’s munificence continued (to the tune of another $25,000) this past season, according to the season book which is not yet available online. The Met’s press office confirms, “As stated in the Met’s annual report, Mr. Keilin is a generous donor. The negotiating committees of the musicians and chorus are well aware of that.”

  • DeepSouthSenior

    Who could forget the immortal line from “Network”: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna put it with this any more!”

    Here’s another connection, kind of weird, but that’s how my brain works.

    Seeing Domingo as Neptune from “The Enchanted Island” on the cover of the 2011-12 report made me think of the current unpleasantness at the Met.

    One question -- Do Neptune’s lines from “The Enchanted Island” below make you think of someone in fierce negotiations right now” Is there just a teeny, tiny chance his initials could be PG?

    “How dare you tell great Neptune

    what he should do or shouldn’t do!

    Fear me, respect me, revere me.

    For in my wrath, I can do wonders.

    I angered, the merest twitch of my right hand

    can turn tide into tempest

    and whip seas into maelstroms!

    I’ll smash this island

    with waves as tall as treetops!

    All dry land’s at my mercy.

    So, do not rile me!


    Please, mighty god, please help me.


    Forgive me.

    I’m sorry, forgive me.

    I beg you.

    I’m old, I’m irritable, I’m weary.

    You called me,

    and Ariel, I will hear you.

    But it may be…

    that I’m too tired to help you.


    No you are great!

    You are mighty!

    I ask one thing.

    My spell, no, my master’s, was corrupted.

    I don’t know how.

    But the seas did not do as I bade them.

    My master’s frail,

    but firm in his insistence that I do his magic.

    And only then will he free me.

    Oh, I’m longing to flee my island prison,

    and plunge and frolic with your dolphins.


    Go swimming with my dolphins?

    If you can find them,

    then you’re welcome!

    My ocean, my deep blue heaven,

    my realm apart,

    when I think of it now,

    it breaks my heart.

    Gone forever, my perfect sea.

    My oceans, once upon a time,

    how sublime they used to be.

    This my gift, from god to mortal,

    every droplet, every wave.

    But like spoiled, ungrateful children,

    they destroyed the gift I gave.

    Gone forever, my perfect sea.

    My oceans, once upon a time,

    how sublime they used to be.”

    • Smashing islands with waves as tall as treetops sounds more Alan Gordon’s speed.

      • DeepSouthSenior

        That would work, too.

        Who could forget Domingo as Neptune? That text was seared into my memory. (Of course I had to refer to the libretto.) English diction the stuff of legend. Well, more like pidgin Spanglish, really.

  • redbear

    An extraordinary scoop! How could this guy be called “independent?” Now the media is searching for a source so they do ‘t have to credit Parterre!

  • Mairsydoats

    Seriously 25k is not a major donor. It’s almost certain Gelb never heard of him. At most he was sounded out by a development officer to see if he had more to give, and he did not.

  • operaassport

    It’s “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.”

  • redbear

    Sorry but a totally independent auditor should be…ahh… totally independent. A donation shows something, obviously. Important question: was this disclosed to all the parties? Would unions approve a donor to the Met?

  • Trappedinoperahell

    Why would a donor to the Met be more likely to be pro-management? Or pro-union, for that matter? The only problem I can see is that he has an interest in the outcome.

  • figaroindy

    Indeed -- the union was all for getting the donors to pony up more money for budgets in the past…so here’s one who is willing to donate time and expertise. And, in my opinion, a donation to the MET is neither to the administration NOR to the unions, but to the productions as a whole of the institution -- so he is on both sides.

  • Signor Bruschino

    Well, we know that the Wall Street Journal reads parterre (and who doesn’t!)- they just posted an article a Met update (about the 2012 bond offering and it affecting the deficit) and the negotiations- and they include the Keilin donation posted here this am!

    • semira mide

      Alex Ross tweeted it, too.

  • What’s interesting is that all three parties agreed to the choice of Keilin. Is the Met really in a position to strong-arm the other two in the choice? (I’m genuinely curious). I mean, Gordon wouldn’t even meet in the Met offices because of some perceived advantage.

    • redbear

      Were Keilin’s Met donations disclosed at that time to all the parties? That is the question to answer.

  • liza

    Board agrees to campaign to ‘double’ endowment IF Mr. Gelb achieves labor-cost savings. Hmmmm. And if he doesn’t? They refuse?

    • NoelAnn

      So much for wondering what the board’s stance in all of this is.

      • liza

        I’m beginning to think the union has a point. Letting Mr.
        Gelb off the hook for a moment, this is beginning to appear to be gross mismanagement. Any other lawyers out there want to weigh in on this? (Especially if this is your area of law)

        • Maybe a lawyer could guess what you mean when you say “gross mismanagement.” By whom? Consisting of what?

  • liza

    I’ve served as legal counsel for boards but I’m not from NY. I’m wondering if there is an atty who can address the prudence standard under NYPMIFA?

  • Signor Bruschino

    Regarding the bond offering, back in 2012 I recall that they were using the $100,000,000 for renovations. Have any renovations started, backstage or otherwise, (and not asking rhetorically!)… Seems strange to get that much of an additional influx of capital and not see some action.

    • operaobserver

      I think of that $100,000,000 some $63,000,000 goes to retire old debt. I. Seem to remember that one of the Chagall murals was being used for collateral for $50,000,000. I wonder if that was ever cleared up. I also wonder if some of the capital projects to update the stage and lighting would affect the number of crew needed to put on a performance. I was under the impression this work was to begin this summer.

  • tpogto

    The scenery batten drives require repacement, but nothing has been done while all the eye-catching P.G.’s propaganda went on. Remember the fire curtain got stuck one evening that delayed the curtain 45 minutes or so. Listed in th current MET OPERA Program are” 6x assistant general managers,Ioan Hoelender and Eva Wagner as “advisor/consultant” are still listed. Also “production” department(used to be called “technical”)now lists 1x lighting designer in chief, 3x his assistants, 3x project managers (in charge of rented productions?)and so on. No talks of these new administrative hires

    • operaobserver

      No doubt administration bloat is as worthy a topic as work rule changes. This reminds me of the issues plaguing higher education. Retiring debt to save on interest or extend cash flow is good, and replacing inefficient technology is good, but if you have to hire more managers to run it or experts to consult on it you loose some of the advantages. If these changes are mostly for HD I fear they won’t be the kind of return they want. They have to find a way to do things for less, not just productions but overall.

  • redbear

    Then there’s the Met’s onward and upward march. With the profound economic crisis of 2008, donor-dependent organizations seemed to make corrections and pull back. Los Angeles Opera cut its budget by one-third, for example. Yet, the Met continued to climb as if nothing had happened. It seems to be a case of defying gravity.

  • liza

    The law on endowments has reflected the downturn, and in some respects is more flexible. NY has its own unique aspects but the 7% rule is a pretty good example of a legal standard. If an org is taking more than 7% from a fund there is a rebuttal presumption of imprudence. Meaning the org has the burden of proof to make an evidentiary showing that they are not acting in an imprudent way. Nor are unlimited funds ‘available’ without notification and permission. This is just an example of how a legal standard operates to protect an endowment from a spend down and/or mismanagement. What I can’t understand about this board is how they can propose that doubling the endowment is somehow feasible without saying, therefore, of course they initiated a campaign two years ago. Instead, doing their job is conditioned on labor concessions.While they maybe trying to prove that they are indeed seeking an alternative to a spend down, their statements create a cognitive dissonance for me and raise a red flag.