Catnip for us opera fans, Vanity Fair's profile of the Metropolitan Opera with general manager Peter Gelb at the helm is fascinating, fun, and a bit worrisome, financially speaking. I mean, c'mon; you young'uns who love great big emotional drama like football and The Lord of the Rings oughta eat this opera stuff up like crazy!
Inside the opera house, 13 cameras captured every detail in high definition; the feeds were relayed to us in the truck. We could see the Ukrainian soprano Maria Guleghina backstage, getting ready to play the sadistic Chinese princess—the title role. Up front, the ushers handed out programs and guided people to their seats. “Guys,” the video director said, speaking through a headset to his cameramen, “I need audience shots. Young people. Is there anyone under 40? Find young people!”
Generally I like what Gelb has done while at the Met, and I say that as someone who admires Joe Volpe for his very different helmsmanship of the company during his tenure. (So things went south after 9/11 -- how is that Joe Volpe's fault?) I especially like Gelb's unified marketing message, using a single theme to bring together a season's programs with one, recognizable image. (Since I don't live in NYC, I don't know how that's playing out right now, but the concept and previous execution are good, FWIW.) Perhaps Gelb has been too quick to abandon old, staple productions in favor of disasters like Luc Bondy's Tosca production earlier this season (though innovation is good in opera, maybe the Met isn't the house to take those chances), but I remain very interested by the future plans Gelb has in store. If nothing else, I'll be listening on Sirius Radio tomorrow night to the premiere of Rossini's Armida, and hoping it all goes well, especially for my darling Renée!
Fascinating article. Slip a Renée Fleming CD onto the stereo and enjoy!