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Met Opera 2014-2015 Season


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#31 Helene

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 04:15 PM

I disagree:  almost all CEOs, presidents, Presidents, and leaders of organizations rely upon their subordinates to vet, analyze, and substantiate claims, even as they become spokespeople for them.  Even had Foxman seen the work, there would be no reason for him to address whether it's an anti-Semitic work, because the organization is claiming that something more specific in the opera could lead to violence.  He also has a Board with its own opinions and interests.

 

I don't think Gelb would have pulled this had there not been pressure from his bosses.  He's not stupid or uninformed about the controversy over the opera since it premiered in 1991.  I suspect the Met was ready to capitalize on it, and it would have been a great tie-in to other organizations and presentations about Middle Eastern politics and by academics and many other opportunities to grab that elusive "new audience" that won't be drawn in by the Zefferelli "La Boheme."

 

Where he was caught flatfooted was is not anticipating that he'd be pressed to backtrack.  He couldn't have anticipated the recent killings at a Kansas City synagogue, making the Kansas City-based AMC Theaters willing to play hardball.  (Were he to go forward with alternate theaters, the Met in HD that he worked so hard to build might collapse.) 

 

There are a lot of cumulative financial and labor-related reasons for the Met Board to be ready to scapegoat him over "Death of Klinghoffer," including a likely labor action.  I don't think the Met will collapse and close, but I do think there's a good chance, based on current posturing, that this could take a while to resolve, and that December holiday/tourist season will be a target for the negotiations.

 

There's no more NYCO:  maybe people will go to NYCB's and ABT's fall seasons instead.



#32 dirac

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 04:47 PM

Not having seen something is indeed a nice way of evading an issue.



#33 vipa

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 05:06 PM

Not having seen something is indeed a nice way of evading an issue.

 Indeed, could Mr. Gelb not have required that anyone who wanted a work to be canceled to have actually seen that  work?  This is art.  



#34 Helene

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 05:29 PM

He didn't have to evade the issue, because it's not the primary issue.  He brought up the issue he felt would incite violence:  what the ADL and the daughters believe is a false moral equivalency.  Anti-Semitism alone isn't necessarily a reason: the ADL passes up putting its energy against many things they consider anti-Semitic.

 

 Indeed, could Mr. Gelb not have required that anyone who wanted a work to be canceled to have actually seen that  work?  This is art.  

 

Foxman did not speak as an individual: he was the spokesman for his organization, which, as an organization, made the decision to choose this as an issue on which to spend its money and energy and to decide which underlying issue was the rationale for their actions.



#35 kfw

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 07:59 AM

I've been eager to read what The New Yorker's Alex Ross has to say about the "Klinghoffer" cancellation, and here it is:

The Met’s “Klinghoffer” Problem

 

This is what I found most interesting:

 

Gelb has revealed that seventy-five per cent of the Live in HD audience is sixty-five or older. “Those are people who are so old that they can’t go the Met, to the theatre, anymore,” he has said. This, apparently, is the same audience that would have become bloodthirsty after a viewing of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”


#36 abatt

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 08:07 AM

If the Met's HD audience is largely people who cannot actually get to the Met anymore, then the argument that the HD broadcasts are the cause for the drop in in-house attendance and ticket sales makes no sense.  By the way, not sure if this was posted, but the Met's administrative offices were vandalized yesterday AM.  Didn't realize this until I looked at the newspaper late last night, but I did think it strange that a cop was in the elevator at the Met after the matinee of SL. Now I understand why the police were at the Met yesterday.



#37 kfw

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 08:22 AM

By the way, not sure if this was posted, but the Met's administrative offices were vandalized yesterday AM.  Didn't realize this until I looked at the newspaper late last night, but I did think it strange that a cop was in the elevator at the Met after the matinee of SL. Now I understand why the police were at the Met yesterday.

 

I read that as well. Apparently there is no sign that the break-in was related to the Klonghoffer controversy or the union negotiations.



#38 Helene

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 08:59 AM

Aside from the general audience demographics for opera being quite different in Europe -- and the Ross article made it clear that the concerns were about Europe, not NYC or the rest of North America -- when broadcast live, the earliest start time is 5pm (GMT) for a long opera like "Parsifal" or 8pm in Moscow.  The "Orpheus ed Eurydice" I saw in Helsinki starred at 8 or 8:30pm.  The morning or matinee schedule that appeals to an older and less mobile audience that is more heavily dependent on public transportation and/or daytime driving does not apply in Europe.



#39 kfw

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 09:34 AM

I wonder how detailed to Met's data is. The shorter travel times (15 minutes instead of 8 hours for example) and the much lower prices (cheaper tickets and no need for a hotel room) are likely more of a factor in why elderly people go to HD broadcasts when they no longer go to the Met itself. 



#40 abatt

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 09:55 AM

The people who are renting hotel rooms to attend are the out of town tourists. 

 

There are many elderly people who live within one or two hours drive to the Met but can't come into the city anymore. As an anecdotal example, I know someone who subscribed to the Met for decades.  Now she is approaching 70 and she does not feel that she can drive from her home in Connecticut anymore into Manhattan due to medical issues.As a result, she dropped her subscription and only attends the HD broadcasts in her community. It is not a matter of price.  It is a matter of declining health preventing trips to the City.  (She also regularly attended NY City Ballet, but since she cannot drive to the city she has not seen the Company for a few years.) 



#41 kfw

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 10:33 AM

The people who are renting hotel rooms to attend are the out of town tourists. 

 

Yes, and no doubt some of the HD subscribers were formerly among them, but can no longer handle the travel time, or afford the hotels.



#42 Dale

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 02:28 PM

I've been reading all your comments with interest. I've always loved the opera. My family had a subscription in the 70s and 80s. We went often. When I was in college, I attended a fair share (although most of my ticket buying in general went towards the ballet!). I've always watched the PBS telecasts. Now that I've moved from the center of the NY Metro area, to the edge, I've really been enjoying the HD broadcasts (and the movie theater showings of other cultural events like the ballet, Royal Opera/Ballet, National Theatre Live etc...). When "Klinghoffer" was announced for the screening, I (Jewish, BTW) was intrigued and interested to see the opera. I'm afraid seeing too many Peter Martins ballets set to Adams' music had temporarily put me off his music, but I had always appreciated his operas. I remember the Klinghoffer incident from my youth and did some reading. I was aware of the controversy that has sometimes followed this opera. I think Gelb just didn't think it through. He seems to do that often. He makes a decision without weighing all possibilities. He also seems to be making a hash of the labor negotiations.

 

I'm not sure how HD broadcasts effect ticket sales. The Met is in the same boat as all the other arts or, frankly, many forms of entertainment. Attendance is down at sporting events. There's a couple of reasons for this but one of the biggest, in my opinion, are ticket prices. Just too high. I buy tickets at many events in different cities. The prices are just crazy. 

 

Another thing I've noticed (and I'd love for opera experts to weight in, please!), the Met has a lot of these drab quasy modern-looking productions. Does the Met have any "traditional" productions left? I love the Ring but seeing the new one live after watching it on the screen carries zero interest from me, as Alex Ross pointed out. While I admired the technical stagecraft involved, I don't think it enriched my appreciation for the score and it was an obstacle course the singers had to deal with. And I keep hearing that the HD filming effects casting, productions. 



#43 California

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 02:39 PM

I get so exasperated at the argument from assorted company directors that making their work available in HD theaters or DVDs will hurt their theater attendance. I don't know what kind of serious research they have on this, but look anecdotally at the situation here. We have available oodles of great DVDs from Royal, Bolshoi, Mariinsky, yet their performances in the US seem to sell very, very well. But we have precious little (at least from the last decade) of ABT or NYCB, yet they hardly ever sell out.

 

 (And that doesn't even take into account the fact that both ABT and NYCB receive a fair amount of taxpayer subsidies and grants -- although we wish it were more -- which would argue in favor of making their work more available to taxpayers who can't get to their theaters for whatever reason.)



#44 volcanohunter

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 02:44 PM

Gelb's London counterparts also reject the cannibalization argument.

[Gleb's] warning could not be more stark, but his analysis is flatly rejected by Alex Beard, chief executive at the Royal Opera. "I don't want to get into a slagging match with the Met, but that is just so far from our experience. Opera is on a roll. As long as love, death, longing and despair are part of the life experience, and people want to hear great stories told through music, opera has a vibrant future," he said.

 

Beard says productions are selling out, with shows in the cinema season often selling fastest. He says the composition of ticket buyers at Covent Garden is visibly changing, and he is convinced that the live cinema screenings, for which student standby tickets will be introduced at many venues next season, are helping to build a new audience, along with initiatives such as student ambassadors in universities, and its "young friends" scheme, which has gone from "zero to a thousand members in months".

...

John Berry, artistic director at ENO, also rejected the glum analysis: "We are having a tremendous season here, and our audiences are not dying – they are getting steadily younger."

http://www.theguardi...-edge-precipice



#45 California

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 02:53 PM

Thank you, VolcanoHunter and Mr. Beard! I couldn't agree more. After you've seen a DVD (or an HD theater show) of a great production, doesn't it make you more likely to want to see it in the theater, if at all possible? Many will find a way eventually. And for those who can't afford it, they wouldn't have gotten to the theater anyway!




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