Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Peter Gelb's MET Vision...

Here's a very interesting read from the New York Times about Peter Gelb's vision for and of the MET. Here are some highlights... the link to the full article is below.
It’s a New Met. Get Over It.

...In his office a couple of weeks ago Mr. Gelb said the decision to open the new season this way, with a brand-new, pared-down production of an opera that was a trademark of the old Met, was “not an accident.” His self-proclaimed mission from the beginning has been to revivify an institution whose core audience he thinks is rapidly aging itself to extinction, by re-emphasizing opera’s theatricality.

“I didn’t understand fully how difficult it was going to be,” he added. “I don’t go into a season hoping that just some things will work. Everything has to work. The stakes are very high. The Met is at a moment when either it will continue to be the leading opera house or it won’t. There’s no middle ground.”

...At the Met, Mr. Gelb’s style is quiet and diplomatic. His spine appears to be made of bendable zirconium, instead of the traditional steel, except that he’s such a master of detail that he almost always gets his way. He’s a tall, soft-spoken man, charming and awkward in about equal measure. During interviews you can watch him edit himself as he speaks.

Unusual for the director of a major opera company, he spends much of his time not in his office but in the opera house itself. He has a temporary desk, with a laptop, set up between Rows Q and R on the left side of the orchestra, and from there he keeps an eye on everything that takes place onstage or in the pit, dashing out every now and then for a phone call or a meeting. He is there to put out fires before they happen, or, as he said, to “resolve any artistic issues that come up.”

...presided over a dinner for high-rolling Met donors under a tent in Damrosch Park. If he was smarting over the opera’s reception, he didn’t show it. Referring to the Zeffirelli version, he said to the guests, “After 25 years we must move forward by offering new productions that will startle our imaginations and will demonstrate that our art is not locked in the past.”
I encourage you to read the full article - it's an eye opening look at a man who has, what some say is, the hardest job in opera.

[Photo - Peter Gelb by Nicole Bengiveno for The New York Times]

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