Scuttlebutt from the Met says that Angela Gheorghiu hankers to sing Strauss’s Salome — though presumably she would workshop the role in a more friendly venue first. In other whisperings, La Cieca has heard that Peter Gelb is currently ensconced in the office once occupied by Beverly Sills. Apparently he’s to remain there until the General Manager’s office can be pried from Joe Volpe’s cold dead hands. (Something tells La Cieca that Uncle Joe’s exit from the Met will be as protracted as that of Nancy Reagan from the White House — as played by Jan Hooks in the classic SNL sketch.)

Here’s a game to brighten up the first chilly days of 2006 for you. Using Brad Wilber’s Met Futures Page and your own insider knowledge, can you suggest to La Cieca which artists’ contracts Gelb most needs to buy out? La Cieca’s nomination: the threatened 2007-2008 performances of Norma by Maria Guleghina.