Some Friendly Advice To Peter Gelb

H/t Drew McManus, a great Peter Gelb quote:

“Once the dust settles,” he added, the musicians “don’t have to love me to play well.”


No, but


The public has to love you.

Not just major donors. The great unwashed public. Y’know, the people you need to fill that gargantuan 3800-seat cavern week in and week out. The paying customers you’re now so eager to lock out, disrespect, and condescend to.

2014 has shown that bad things can happen to hated music CEOs, and we’re not even seven months through! Things like screams of “fire Henson!” emanating from Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, or the crowd heckling San Diego Opera head Ian Campbell after he announced he was shutting that company down. The actions and attitudes of both of these men led to widespread public anger and decreased support of their respective institutions. (Until their departures, of course.)

So some friendly advice:

You’re thinking of your labor dispute as a two-way tug of war. Surprise!: it’s a three way. The third team is the public. They’re just coming on the field now. If you keep screwing up your PR, two of those teams will be pulling against you.



Filed under Labor Disputes

34 responses to “Some Friendly Advice To Peter Gelb

  1. Stuard Young

    I wonder where Peter Gelb hatched the idea that the orchestra musicians will play well regardless? Morale does have an effect on playing at the highest level, as does sleep deprivation and illness, both of which are affected directly by stress, which is triggered by this type of labor dispute.

  2. Every new detail of Gelb’s actions or quotes from him further cement my extremely low opinion of him. Thank you for this post, I hope the appropriate eyeballs find it.

  3. Pingback: Mr. Gelb’s Disastrous Interview | Mask of the Flower Prince

  4. Daniel Flanigan

    I find it interesting that every article that I have read seems to focus on what Gelb needs the labor unions to give/change. I see nothing that indicates that he is willing to make any adjustment to his business model i.e. a shorter season or booking more outside companies during the summer months. If this is truly a failing endeavor then change and concession must be made from both sides of the table.

  5. Let me give you orchestra, chorus and stagehands a friendly advice of my own. The worse is yet to come. A lot of talented artists are looking for work out there. This lockout letter might be just a warning for mass layoff beginning August 1st. Unemployment is rampant in America and sadly for you, nobody’s irreplaceable. You’re making 6 figures right now and will continue to do so even after the cuts, what’s wrong with you people? The Board might see this intransigence as an opportunity for a purge and save even more money.

    It’s also inappropriate of workers at any place of employment to dictate to management the way it should divide the budget. You don’t get to tell the boss how to spend money. Your job at the Met is to sing, play, build sets etc. as described in you job description for a specified, negotiated salary. The Metropolitan Opera isn’t a government agency or a publicly owned company. It’s a business for profit like any other. Get real.

    • Joan, the Metropolitan Opera is a Non Profit, not a For Profit corporation. Big difference. If you can’t get that right, how can anyone take anything else you say seriously?

  6. Before any of my readers gets too worked up, Joan Marshall is obviously a pseudonym. We had a lot of these during the Minnesota Orchestra dispute. So if y’all want to argue with a pseudonym, feel free. But it’s probably not worth it.

  7. And Song of the Lark is a real name? Lol. But why address the message when you can always distract by attacking the messenger, right?

    It’s the show that must go on, not you. Always remember that.

    • I’m approving these comments for comic relief.

      • You’ll need comic relief come August 1st, trust me. And while you demonize Peter Gelb and blame him for global warming, 9/11 and everything under the sun remember that the deficit in 2006, the last year of Joseph Volpe as general manager, was $4.5 million. The company was in the red during 4 of Volpe’s last 5 seasons.

        And what kind of working class can afford to hire a publicity firm for gods sakes? Just incredible. The numbers are not in your favor, that’s why you need professional liars. Ticket sales are down, donations are down and the company’s in the red, that’s the simple truth. Workers have to compromise or find employment elsewhere. The Board can’t allow the company to go the way of NYCOpera or Teatro dell’Opera di Roma which went bankrupt 3 days ago. The Met isn’t Exxon Mobil people, get real.

    • Amy

      Hi, Pamela. And George. And Andrew. And Joshua. And David. And…goodness, it’s hard to keep track. How many new blogs do you excrete in a given month?

  8. Steven Lipsitt

    Met is not a business for profit, it is (tax-exempt) non-profit. It doesn’t exist to make money, but to make art.

    • Really, a non-profit? So why do you refuse to make less profit by accepting a pay cut? What hypocrisy.

      $250,000 plus a year, health insurance, pension, two to fours months of paid vacation. You all live in a fantasy world, which I’m glad will end on Friday. Gelb is correct in bringing you guys back to Earth.

      • It’s been fun today, but if you want to troll tomorrow, please amp up the originality… I’m getting a little bored with Joan, especially since I KNOW how much better you can do! Entertain us!

  9. Jeanne Ellen

    I don’t follow opera, but I am sure that the those who perform it at the Met will rise from the Phoenix’ ashes the way the MN Orchestra did. They do have a role model to guide them. Does anyone know if they have contacted the MN musicians?

  10. If you see a few comments missing, I got bored with the ramblings of dear Joan Marshall and deleted her comments from today… I thought the abundance of her trollish comments would only confuse my new readers who aren’t used to dealing with her. So I’m not going to approve any of her new posts. It was fun while it lasted; maybe she can come back with a different identity next time…

  11. So, classical music really IS elitist after all . . .

  12. Felipe

    Some of us are already discussing boycotting The Met (if and when it re-opens) as long is Gelb remains in command. We already go far less often than we used to, and since most of the productions and much of the singing are not particularly edifying, we won’t really miss it all that much.

  13. Kochead

    Hey Joan, Thanks for posting these comments. You’re a great secretary. Now please come back to office. I need another foot massage. xoxo David

Leave a Reply to Song of the Lark Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s