Monday, June 9, 2014

Met's Gelb: two-thirds to unions

The war of words between management and unionized employees continues at the Metropolitan Opera. Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met, says the company faces “a bankruptcy situation in two or three years” because the Met’s audience is not growing and its production expenses remain high.

Interviewed by Tom Service on BBC Radio 3’s “Music Matters,” Gelb says: “What we have to do is make [productions] less expensive – not by going back to the stone ages of opera theater and having productions that no one will want to see, but by cutting down on the labor costs. . . . [I]f two-thirds of the cost structure is going to the unions, clearly that’s an area that has to be cut” . . .

The Met’s contracts with its orchestra and chorus expire at the end of July. Gelb has proposed work-rules changes that could reduce the musicians’ pay by 16 percent. Their unions have threatened to strike over the issue.