Cher Public

“We’re looking at everything”

Naming rights, Sunday performances, an extension of the Met’s lobby forward into Lincoln Center Plaza . . . Peter Gelb puts all that and more on the table. [New York Times]

  • Camille

    It already has a name: “Sybil’s Barn”. Perhaps it could be redubbed “La Casa della Cieca”?

    I would seriously look forward to and support the Sunday performances and/or a Sunday concert as they used to do decades ago.

    • RosinaLeckermaul

      Sunday matinees are a great idea. Just about every New York theatre does this now. The City Opera had Sunday performances. Monday and Tuesday night attendance seems to be quite low now. Folks who work in the theatre like the Sunday matinee/dark Monday schedule as it gives them two nights off per week.
      I will be interested to see how the box office fares this season, which strikes me as being woefully unbalanced. Five Donizettis????? I like Donizetti, but he’s not the greatest composer. Only 1 Wagner, 1 modern opera, nothing contemporary. People complained that last season was dull. This one is about as lightweight as you can get.

      • SilvestriWoman

        Both Chicago and San Francisco have Sunday matinee series, and they’re amongst the most popular of all. Some of us actually like to dine after the opera, and still get into bed before midnight!

  • almavivante

    With the demise (or is it merely moribund?) of OONY, it would be so wonderful if the Met did Sunday concert performances of opera rareties that they won’t stage. Imagine, for example, a Matilde di Shabran with Florez. Sure, it’s been recorded and released on DVD, but a live perf? The Met would sell out. Or Il Corsaro? Or La Vestale? Or, given our doyenne’s recent enthusiasm, Paisiello’s Barbiere? Perhaps one of Donizetti’s one-act comedies, such as Rita, plus a selection of bel canto arias to fill out the program, along with an interlude of the Met orchestra playing one of the ballet scores they usually cut from staged productions. True, I’m ventilating my own taste here, but I’m sure others among the cher public would offer their own suggestions.

    • la vociaccia

      I like that all of the rarities you suggested were written within a span of about 30 years.

      • almavivante

        Just my opinion, and I admit I’m being a little facetious, but those were probably the best thirty years in the history of opera.

    • semira mide

      Matilde di Shabran gets my vote, again, and again.

    • damianjb1

      Maybe some Meyerbeer or other big operas that would be extremely expensive to stage????

  • I think Sunday matinees are a great idea. Matinees always sell better with aging opera audiences, especially considering how long Met performances can be with the long and numerous intermissions. I assume that the addition of Sunday matinees would be offset by cancelling some mid-week evening performances. I doubt Gelb is looking to add more performances to the calendar (every performance is an opportunity to lose more money).

    Naming the Met opera house would raise eyebrows for sure. And it would take the profile of the house down a notch in some people’s estimation. The article rightly points out that other iconic opera houses and New York institutions (from La Scala to Yankees Stadium) don’t bear a donor’s name.

    I assume the price-tag for such a naming right would be approx. $150M. Assuming a conservative 4% withdrawal rate, an addition of $150M to the endowment could generate $6M annually in revenue (in perpetuity).

    • Uninvolved Bystander

      I assume they will not rename the house itself but follow the path of Carnegie Hall, i.e. the Perelman Stage in the Stern Auditorium as well as Zankel Hall. The main auditorium should be up for bidding rights as Sybil has been six feet under for a good many years; I believe it was named for her in appreciation for her underwriting so many productions. Naming rights for the Dress Tier, Balcony and Family Circle could be put up for bidding.)

      • Camille

        “The La Cieca Parterre Boxes”, might be good for a starter.

        • SilvestriWoman

          With Box JJ reserved for life for a very special someone…

      • The question of taking Sybil Harrington’s name off the auditorium is not an arbitrary one. I assume that there’s a term limit on the naming right – maybe 25 years?

        • Uninvolved Bystander

          I don’t know. I assumed Avery Fisher Hall was named in perpetuity, until Geffen’s billions showed up. And I think Lincoln Center had to arrive at a financial settlement with Fisher’s heirs. I don’t think Harrington gave money for the auditorium per se; her name was put on in appreciation for funding all those Zefferellis. Well, his productions are going and I’m assuming her name is not long for the orchestra level.

          • UI -- you are correct on both counts: AFH was named in perpetuity, which is why a financial settlement had to be offered.

          • Wasn’t there still some kind of agreement with Sybil Harrington or her family? I doubt the naming was done lucy goosey.

  • overstimmelated

    “That addition would add several thousand square feet of space that would allow the Met to redesign its box-office area, gift shop, art gallery and possibly add a cafe.”

    Or, to free up a bunch of (once under-used) lobby space now, they could begin by just getting rid of the gallery.

    • Camille

      That gallery is just so ugly, yes, please—do something about it. Put in an espresso café -- à la Bolud Bar.

      • Camille

        Bar Boulud — sorry Mr. Boulud — I am all revved up listening to Le Cid Rodrigue is about to attack the Moors.

      • Chanterelle

        Not just the gallery, but what they choose to display in it. I am still haunted by those photorealist images of slack-jawed adolescents in hoodies…

        • Camille

          Was that a *Two Guys* thang? Missed that one, as I have missed all of them since the Francesco Clemente showing. There is always just me and an intensely unhappy guard there (guarding WHAT, pray tell?), and that’s IT.

          Stick those photos or portraits. I wish there was still a giftstore on the Concourse level, that’s my Christmas wish. oh well.

  • Camille

    The thing about the Sunday matinée concerts is that it gives an opportunity to artists to step outside their habitual roles and sing something a little different and it gives us, the audience starved for exotica such as French Grand Opera, the chance to hear “O souverain” or “O Paradiso” every now and again. The lists of items which I have read in the Archives is so fascinating and stimulating.

    Yes, the cost of paying the working personnel an orchestra may be prohibitive, but couldn’t something be worked out? Perhaps just an accompanist or a small chamber group, to help mitigate the costs — and one backdrop instead of a series of sets.

    Anyway, it’s my big wish for something new. That and another Secret Commode as mine has been found out. Long lines of women outside it now, ahimè!

    • I’m quite certain that Gelb is talking about moving some poor-selling fully staged performances from weeknights to Sundays so that they can sell a higher percentage of the available tickets. I doubt he’s meaning to do concerts in addition to their staged performances.

      • Camille

        Yes, I am sure you are correct but that doesn’t keep me from wishing for my ‘druthers.

        it’s not going to happen except in Le Grand Théâtre de l’Imgination — and that’s where I go to hear a lot of operas these days.

      • almavivante

        Alas, you’re almost certainly right. To the person who used the term Le Grand Théâtre de l’Imgination: Oh, yes, wouldn’t it be lovely to hear Le Cid in concert, even if they’d never stage it… (By the way, la vociaccia, I think that expands the range of dates for works I mentioned to about 60 years!)

  • pirelli

    I assume Sunday performances would mean that Monday night would be dark -- I don’t think there’s any way they could do a 9-show in 7-days performance schedule. Given that most theatres are dark on Mondays, this would not be a bad step (although for anyone wanting to see a performance on a traditional dark night, it would of course be a letdown).

    MET2GO? Really? I understand wanting to have a “hip” title, but that’s awful. “Met To Go” would be ok I suppose, just please spell it without the cutesy “2.” (Though I’m sure they could come up with something more interesting without having to be so horribly gimmicky.)

    • pirelli

      Though, I would add, I’d love to see a redesign of the current main Met logo anyway. What does “Ropolitan” mean? ;-) (Yes yes, I get the point of it. But it’s just a little odd.)

    • almavivante

      But wasn’t Monday traditionally THE big subscription night? Of course, those members of society are all dead by now, so the point may be moot.

    • Cicciabella

      I like “Met On The Go”

    • Camille

      How about “MET à Go-Go”?

      Nah, too 70’s—

      MET Merry-go-round?

      MET Mobile?

      MET ‘N the ‘Hood?

      Oh no--how about MEET the MET!!

      Met2Go sounds like a pizza or something.

      • manou

        Met Roam.

  • Product placement.

    Let Minnie drive offstage in a Tesla. Let Dorabella be wooed with an Apple Watch. Let Lucia be gifted with a set of Mizuno Honyaki knives.

    (Would recommend against Jokanaan’s head being brought in a KFC bucket.)

    • JohninSeattle

      Lady Macbeth sleep walking scene brought to you by Purell, the non-soap hand saniter.

    • (Would recommend against Jokanaan’s head being brought in a KFC bucket.)

      Oh, but can you imagine changing one of Salome’s line to “Ah, finger licking good”? I’m sure it’d be even better in German.

      • Ich habe ihn geküßt deinen Mund, es war ein lecker BBQ Geschmack auf deinen Lippen

        • rapt

          These threads are so difficult to keep track of! I was sure this comment referred to the repas gastronomique of the fidanzati! (I was going to say “keep straight” above, but thought better of it.)

        • LOL

        • Camille

          m. c.-- that is both truly disgusting and truly funny.

          We finally stumbled onto that Japanese food shop near Carnegie Hall this past summer and will be trying it out on some cold winter night. It bodes well as it was full of Japanese families all gathered around. I guess KFC is pretty big in Japan on Christmas day. Wie “Lecker!”!!!

    • antikitschychick

      Let the Valkyries ride electronic machines shaped like horses, powered by Intel :-D….oh wait….

    • manou

      Reminds me of the old story about the product placement guy who is sent to the Vatican to ask the Pope how much it would cost to end all prayers with “Drink Coca Cola!”. The pontiff throws him out and the guy reports back wondering how much Fiat paid for Fiat voluntas tua

  • antikitschychick

    The prospect of Sunday matinees sounds awesome; I’d be down for sure and I could probably convince a few of my friends/classmates to join me every now and again. I think it could be feasible for them to use the Sunday matinees to replace of week-day performances that aren’t selling that well and concert performances of rare works too. Not sure about that “Met2Go” thing although if the performances would be excerpts/scenes or a mash of different arias (like a pastiche type thing) I can see that working. For my peers with ADD who can’t sit through a 3.5 or 4 hour long opera in a dark theater this could be a formidable alternative, especially if it’s interactive. It could also be used as an educational tool. They could get the singers in the Young Met Artists programs to do it and that way they’d get valuable performance experience, the Met would generate revenue and younger people would get to see performances by their peers which could make opera seem more welcoming and accessible. They’d have to get singers who can act and have a varied rep. I think they should incorporate technology into it and rather than use a set. They could use like a high quality 3D projector or something and give people 3D glasses and make it a 3D experience lol.

    I don’t consider myself a traditionalist but I think naming the building after a donor is a bad idea. M.croche’s product placement idea is hilarious but that could end up happening if they let the building be named after someone, the slippery slope effect could set in. Just sayin.

    • armerjacquino

      The National Theatre in London has just renamed its third space the Dorfman after the CEO of Travelex. Part of me thinks that’s a shame but given that Travelex made the £10 ticket scheme possible (still running after 12 years, albeit now as a £15 scheme) I think it’s a price worth paying.

      The Met could presumably do as CG has done and name various bars and function rooms after sponsors. I doubt anyone’s thinking of renaming the building itself.

      • antikitschychick

        I think in the article Gelb did mention the possibility of having the building named after a donor though it’s just a possibility and I don’t think a likely one at that. Or at least I would hope not. He may be throwing it out as bait but I’d think that would only happen as a last resort type thing.

        Your suggestion of naming various bars and function rooms after sponsors sounds much more reasonable and that’s really great about the low ticket prices at CG. They seem to be doing very well. Even the cheapest seats way up in Family Circle at the Met aren’t that cheap. In fact I’d say they’re not cheap at all. Most of the ones I bought cost me between 30 and 40 something dollars (think the most expensive was 47 for Trovatore and Bolena). I still think I’ll get my money’s worth but tickets are definitely on the pricier end.

  • antikitschychick

    Neglected to mention the one thing that I’ve no doubt will rescue the Met from its financial woes AND bring it/opera back into the mainstream: A reality t.v. show!! Duh! :-P. All they have to do is focus on the backstage business, the ‘inner workings’ of putting on a show and all the drama and stress that goes along with that, including the (fabricated, or not) cat fights between the divas, divos and directors. Of course, for a whimsical variation of that one can always pop in here, but seeing it on t.v. would be much more scintillating no??
    No but seriously, there should be a follow-up to “The Audition” as all the singers that were featured in that seem to be doing very well.

    • Camille

      I vote for the Reality Show but really real and unscripted. Now that would be fun.
      Maybe throw in Donald Trump to fire people. “Your high C was a high B! You’re fired!”

      • antikitschychick

        Well apparently Trump did get fired from the apprentice and was replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger. How wonderfully ironic that he got replaced by an immigrant lol.

        • Camille

          Yes, and gets other immigrants pregnant, too, as well as f-cking up my beloved homeland and its economy --Boo Terminator!!!
          Guess that Gov. Brown is now undoing some of the harm.

      • pirelli

        Trump wouldn’t know a C from a B. Trump would just keep telling us how he’s going to make the Metropolitan Opera great again (but never HOW he would do that). And he’d build a wall to keep all the foreign singers out.

        • SilvestriWoman

          And make the singers pay with their lost fees!!!

        • kennedet

          Go ‘head and preach pirelli ! Amen.

  • Rowna

    Someone PLEASE help the ladies. Our waiting time at intermission is ridiculous. Yes a better lobby is desperately needed. And so are more ladie’s rooms. (I know this is a ridiculous thought -- but do you think someone from the Met innards might be reading this?????)

    • Jamie01

      Two birds with one stone -- sell off naming rights for new stalls in the Ladies’

    • Lohenfal

      Rowna, the Met sent me a survey a few months ago asking about all these issues. One of those I mentioned in my response was the poor physical plant, and I suggested better facilities for all of us. Gelb’s habit of putting on only one intermission even in long operas has strained the men’s rooms also. The Figaro I went to last season was a real crisis point for the guys also. What I find laughable is that the Met is first thinking of improvements they should’ve brought about years ago--they’re slightly behind the times!!

      • Uninvolved Bystander

        The problem with extending intermissions is that performances will then run into overtime and the expenses that would entail would offset any savings/surplus from naming rights. I was at the final performance of DON GIOVANNI last year and Peter Mattei almost was decapitated by the falling fire curtain as he was leading the cast in a bow. Checked my phone; time was 10:59 PM so I assume they were bringing the curtain quickly down to beat the overtime deadline.

        • SilvestriWoman

          Extended intermissions also make the evening longer for audiences with a commute home. Last season, I finally broke down and started taking a cab home from Lyric performances. It’s the only guarantee that I can arrive home before 12:30 a.m. or even later. (I still haven’t figured out, though, why a long intermission was stuck into the middle of Capriccio.)

        • Lohenfal

          You’re right that having more intermissions would lead to other problems, but as things stand now, there just isn’t enough time to use the facilities, eat, drink, etc. during these operas. Gelb doesn’t seem to care much about these practicalities. The Figaro I mentioned started at the rather early time of 12:00 on Saturday, because a complete performance of the 6-hour Meistersinger had to take place that evening. Is it normal for an opera house to schedule Figaro and Meistersinger on the same day? The early start time might have compounded the long-line problem in some way by interfering with our normal lunchtime. To make matters worse, it wasn’t a very good performance, so we could have used an extra break.

    • Camille

      Rowna, do you know about the Ladies potty on the Family Circle level? I did not for the longest time but it is a life saver. It’s to the left side, ALL the way UP. I don’t sit there much anymore and my Secret Commode (the Concourse Level) has been found out. Curses!!!!!!

      There’s always Avery Fisher Hall but on cold nights, well, a bother.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      Having reached a little beyond the Men of a Certain Age demographic, I’ve finally learned the physical regimen required for a Met performance. I refrain from food and liquids for several hours before arrival. I take only a sip from the water fountain at intermission(s), with the added bonus of saving big $$’s for a thimble full of a non-adult beverage. Really, it’s like a secular season of fasting and prayer. Fasting, to avoid the long lines of frowning men in the bathrooms. Prayer, hoping that I can actually make it.

  • Will

    armerjacquino, the Met already has Ezio Pinza drinking fountains and I’m sure the MET could find elevators, display cases, individual box office windows, etc., etc. to “sell.”

  • overstimmelated

    Lest we forget, there is also the “Mercedes T. Bass Grand Tier.” Actually I was a bit surprised to see the issue of “naming rights” on the table after the embarrassment of the Vilar scandal (his name had to be scrubbed from the Grand Tier). I almost wrote “so soon after the Vilar scandal,” but I guess it was only a matter of time.

    • The Vilar scandal was specific to him, not to naming rights in general. Non-profits have been doing all manner of naming rights for decades. The issue is (and should be) always on the table.

      • overstimmelated

        For the Met, though, Vilar was their first -- or at least most high-profile -- renaming after Harrington, and thus may well have proved a (temporary) setback to the cause of “naming rights.” By the way, here is Peter G. Davis on the “Sybil Harrington Auditorium” in 1987:
        http://tinyurl.com/nn23ejl

  • jrance

    Why is the Met lobby an issue? When the house opened in 1966 and for several seasons thereafter, attendance was at or near 90-100% of capacity. The ‘gates’ opened 1/2 hour before curtain time. There never seemed to be any massive traffic jams.

    Nowadays attendance is down sharply, the
    ‘gates’ open 45 minutes before curtain time, and suddenly people are having a problem getting in? Perhaps it is due to a reduction in the number of ticket-takers (as a cost-cutting factor…and btw have you also noticed there are far fewer ushers in the auditorium?) -- and also the absurdly perfunctory post 9/11 “security check” which should be abandoned as pointless and an needless expense.

    Remember, too, that you can enter on the lower level, below the main lobby, and get to say hi to Jose into the bargain.

    The “art gallery” is a joke…there’s enough mediocre art everywhere in NYC; if lobby space is so urgently needed, the gallery should be the first thing to go.

    Sunday performances: GREAT idea…but to put on one-off concert performances of old Meyerbeer and Spontini operas would be an added expense in terms of rehearsal time for principals, chorus, and orchestra. Also if such performances were built (as they should be) around bankable stars and then said stars become ill or pregnant or decide they’d rather stay in Europe, then you are fcuked.

    Met2Go…sure, whatever…how it will increase attendance at the big house is the question.

    • I think an expanded lobby is a “nice to have” kind of thing but should not be a priority for the Met. Gelb’s priority should be cementing the Met’s financial future and the endowment should be the focus. Raising tens of millions just to have an expanded lobby isn’t going to increase tickets sales or fundraising.

    • Camille

      Thanks for reminding me to enter at the Concourse level, jrance as I used t do just that. Less windy! That’s the solution for me.

      Maybe they could turn that superfluous art gallery into extra toilettes. There’s another solutiion.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      I always thought lobby loitering was a pre-internet form of social media. See and be seen, and all that. I rather enjoy the jumble and the noise, and the fun of wondering if others have the same thoughts about me as I have of them. Then again, I only make it to the Met once a year for two or three performances, so I don’t find the lobby annoying. No doubt, if I were a regular the experience would soon grow tiresome. There are advantages to being the gawking tourist.

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Sunday performances is an excellent idea provided they are conducted in the early afternoon. In Europe several symphonic orchestras have been doing it for years.

  • Amnerees

    The new issue of BBC Music has a long feature interview with Mr. Gelb. He displays no real insecurities that I can discern, and he says that when members of the board make artistic suggestions he forgets them instantly. He does admit that older members of the Met audience are not attending as often. He explains that he has to think primarily about future audiences. I wish he had to worry about future employment …

    • Lohenfal

      It’s my understanding that the Board extended Gelb’s tenure to 2022. That would explain his lack of concern for his future employment. I’m surprised, though, that he would admit that some members of the audience aren’t attending as often. In his interviews, he generally avoids accepting any responsibility for the current crisis, e.g. certain productions that haven’t been exactly well received. The emphasis he’s placing on improving the physical plant, naming rights, and other non-controversial issues may be his way of trying to improve the financial situation without changing his own course of action in programming and productions. When I responded to the Met survey I received several months ago, I mentioned programming and productions, as well as the physical plant, as needing to be addressed.

  • zinka

    Michael Corvino..great talent..sweet guy…..I love this scene…..