Cher Public

And all the rest is talk

“Labor! Oh, the problem of labor at the Met is gargantuan,” Our Own JJ (not pictured) would have said, had he thought of it, during a panel discussion on WQXR’s Conducting Business program, which can be heard after the jump.  

  • steveac10

    Nice to hear a level headed discussion of the situation. No rumors, no accusations -- just opinions on what might, or could, happen.

    • Sempre liberal

      “…there’ll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans: under the sea”

  • DermotMalcolm

    Good discussion.
    I would like to see much smarter use of resources and no more rookie mistakes: the example of heavy expenses to chorus for both Parsifal and Don Carlos in one season was an eye opener.
    The Gelb era has existed under several clouds:
    Since Peter Gelb became general manager in 2006, the two captains of the Met ship, Gelb and James Levine, have operated with multiple handicaps: rookieness for Gelb and absence/illness/absence for Levine.
    The unalloyed disaster of the LePage/Voigt Ring can be attributed to these two handicaps. And the money (tens of millions) lost on that turkey undermines all subsequent spending decisions.
    In addition, the Great Recession hit in 2007.
    (And see below: re: hoped-for creative rivalry with Gérard Mortier.)
    The Met is suffering from malaise, reflected in the numbingly underwhelming upcoming season.
    I plan to attend for sure only one opera, “The Rake’s Progress.”
    Mulling much of what Parterrians have been saying over the past month on the subject of the lockout, I began thinking of a drastic measure to revive the place.
    It is not a new idea.
    I think that that the only way to save the Met is for its interior to be reconfigured. It is nothing new to remark that the Met auditorium has always been too big: seating 3,800. It ruined many a good voice as they tried to be heard in the echoing canyon.
    Most major houses are far smaller: ROH seats 2,256; London Coliseum 2,558; Canadian Opera Co 2,071; Carnegie 2,800; BAM Opera 2,100; Academy of Music, home of Opera Philadelphia 2,500; La Scala 2,800; San Francisco comes close at 3,300.
    And the Met is looking shabby.
    How to fill all those seats?
    The seemingly successful “Met in HD” may have closed the door on filling those 3,800 seats every night: why pay $220 a seat when $22 gets a reasonable facsimile thereof and with miked voices so that those smaller ones less heard in the Met cavern itself can be enjoyed in your neighborhood?
    So within the current Met house: I suggest two replacements to the white elephant hall: A major hall seating 2,800, and a smaller one at 800.
    The house would need to be shut down for several years.
    But other performing arts houses have shut down, then reopened and bounced back, reinvigorated: The Royal Opera House and Alice Tully Hall both shut down for a few years to refurbish.
    Of course, the Met would need to make the plan, fundraise, then do it.
    During construction, the Met could float around town to the Koch, John Jay, the Armory, Carnegie Hall, BAM, etc.
    What would it perform?
    I loved the late Gérard Mortier’s planned first season at NYCO: 20th-century operas: Messiaen’s Saint Francis of Assisi; The Rake’s Progress; Death in Venice; The Markopulos Case; Pelléas et Mélisande, and Einstein on the Beach.
    The Met could show some grandeur and generosity by honoring the memory of a man who would have been a rival to the Met’s Gelb, each challenging and inspiring the other—and do that first Mortier season. Gelb could add a few works from NYCO’s golden years, such as my favorite from that time, A Village Romeo and Juliet.
    Who would pay for it? Isn’t there some left-wing magnate (George Soros?) who would pony up the dough to face off against the Koch Theatre?
    (And I want the old name back: The New York State Theater; maybe the auditorium itself could be called Ed Koch Hall; I mean, just joking: David H. it is.)
    As for the union, I wish we were all (all seven billion of us) protected with union rights, benefits and responsibilities. And had a guaranteed annual income.

  • johns33

    I dont think it would survive closing and moving around. The met brand would never recover. Whether it seats 3800 or 2500
    The operating costs would seem the same. If downsizing the space is really the problem maybe close down the balcony section and turn it into
    An intermission bar/snack venue.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      or just turn the whole building into a shopping mall!