The Metropolitan Opera learned on Tuesday that censoring the press, even your in-house press, does not lead to good publicity.
Just a few hours after it emerged that Opera News, which is produced by an affiliate of the Metropolitan Opera, would stop reviewing the Metropolitan Opera, the Met announced that no, actually, it was changing its mind and Opera News could keep running reviews. Peter Gelb (pictured), the Met's general manager, did not like the way the News had treated its latest production of Wagner's Ring cycle, and since the publication is produced by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, a non-profit set up to support the Met, he had enough influence to persuade it to stop reviewing the Met. But the fans proved more influential.
"From their postings on the internet, it is abundantly clear that opera fans would miss reading reviews about the Met in Opera News. Ultimately, the Met is here to serve the opera-loving public and has changed its decision because of the passionate response of the fans," the Met wrote in a statement. Bravo!
The 242 comments currently on Daniel J. Wakin's New York Times story, which first reported the Opera News news, bear out the Met's claim. (It's probably worth noting Gelb is the son of Arthur Gelb, former executive editor of the paper.) "All I can express is gratitude that Peter Gelb is not in politics; clearly separation of powers means little to him," wrote Logan, of Seattle. "A more vocal Opera News should be welcomed, not censored. Raising its voice is what opera is all about," wrote Charles Michener, of Cleveland. Critic Norman Lebrecht called on reviewers to boycott the Met until Opera News was free to review again. On our own story, commenter lizabet wrote:
Disappointing (and dispiriting) to see gelb showing such a lack of trust in his audience. Despite the bad reviews we traveled from california to nyc for the Ring, and loved the production. And i'm looking forward to returning for Lepage's Tempest. But am sad to see the most interesting, vital part of Opera News censored out.
It did seem like a disservice to readers that the magazine would agree to stop reviews. As we pointed out earlier, many of Opera News' readers get the magazine because they're Met fans who donate to the Guild, so they like knowing whether a show is worth paying even more for a ticket. And they're not afraid to say so.