Metropolitan Opera's Peter Gelb Comments on the Future of Opera
Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, discusses the future of opera. In an article posted today in Bloomberg, he says, "Today the notion that high art can also be entertainment is anathema to those who think that genius is not suited to accessibility and that opera presentations should be a Spartan exercise. This concept has potentially threatened opera's very existence, resulting in the staging of some operas over the last several decades that misguidedly deconstruct familiar plots, thereby depriving audiences -- particularly new ones -- of the satisfaction of being able to follow the original storylines."
He goes on to comment about governmental cutbacks, saying, "With the economic crisis bringing Europe to its knees, leaders of opera companies over there are being forced to think more about their audiences than ever before, as government subsidies are cut significantly back."
Read the article here.
Having recently completed his sixth season at the helm of the Met, Mr. Gelb has overseen the launch of a number of initiatives aimed at revitalizing opera and connecting it to a wider audience since the start of his tenure. One of his fundamental goals has been to recruit the world's great theater directors to enhance the theatricality of the Met's productions and complement the extraordinary musical standards established by Music Director James Levine. Mr. Gelb is also committed to securing more engagements each season from the world's top singers. One of the most successful and trailblazing of his new initiatives is The Met: Live in HD, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series of live performance transmissions shown in high definition in movie theaters. The series has sold more than ten million tickets since its inception in December 2006 and in the 2011-12 season was seen on more than 1,700 screens in more than 50 countries across six continents.
Under Mr. Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera has once again taken a leadership role among opera houses and other arts organizations, not only in the U.S. but around the world, providing a model for other groups with its groundbreaking artistic and public initiatives. Mr. Gelb today shares his message regularly through keynote addresses and discussions at conferences in the U.S. and abroad, including at Harvard University, Yale University, MIT, New York University, the Miller Theater at Columbia University, Showa University in Japan, the European Opera Conference in Paris, the Chautauqua Institution, the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the American Academy in Berlin, and the MIDEM conference in Cannes. He has received honorary doctorates from Hamilton College and from the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York.