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  • Writer's pictureZach Finkelstein

BREAKING: Met Opera Includes Laid-off Soloists on Email Asking Public for Money

On Wednesday morning, March 25th, the Metropolitan Opera sent an email with the subject, "An Important Message from General Manager Peter Gelb", requesting an "urgent gift", to what appears to be their entire email contact list.

At least six Met soloists who were recently laid off via Force Majeure, including one who did not receive any communication from the Met and was laid off in a Tweet, confirm receiving the email.

This email read as follows, with a screenshot below:

As you know, we recently had no choice but to cancel performances in order to protect our audiences, artists, and staff from the spread of the coronavirus. As devastating as it is to have to close the Met, this was the rare instance where the show simply couldn't go on. But we are determined to weather this storm and are looking ahead to the 2020-21 season, opening in September, since it is now clear that we will not be able to resume operations before the scheduled end of our current season in May. The financial threat to the Met is immense, and we cannot ensure the future of Met performances or seasons without your help. I am writing today to ask you to consider making an urgent gift to the company to help us address the overwhelming economic implications of the pandemic. In these extraordinarily challenging times, opera and the arts offer solace to a frightened nation and our fellow citizens around the world. That's the reason why last week we began streaming a different encore performance from our Live in HD series each night, for free. It's a reminder that the arts are part of the soul of a civilized society, and without cultural institutions like the Met, our lives would be diminished. While we are cutting expenses in every way possible in the coming months, including my own decision to take no salary, we need your help now. The stock market is down, but it will rebound. The Met will recover too, but only with the assistance of our most loyal fans and donors. I am forever impressed and grateful for your passion and support. We need it now, more than ever before. Thank you. With great appreciation for your help, Peter Gelb

The Met Opera has laid off all its musicians through the rest of the season, citing Force Majeure. The organization has made clear in its most recent public statements that all administrative staff are still being paid.

Two Met soloists confirm they received the email twice. While the first one was subscribed to the Met broadcast and cited this as a potential reason, the second Met soloist was not currently subscribed to any Met services.

When asked to comment, she said, "it would have been classy if they’d made the effort to exclude their company members and other freelance artists who were also facing the blow of sudden, long-term financial loss from their fundraising mailing list."

More to follow as the story develops.


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1 Comment

Mar 27, 2020

I find it comical that the MET is begging for money when they pay outrageous wages to stagehands and musicians, $400K to some stagehands and $400K plus to opera orchestra concert master. I suggest Peter Gelb hire the director of California's Pocket Opera to get bloated budgets back to reality. Here's another suggestion: outsource all productions to asia and just broadcast it at MET.

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