(Note: This post has been updated (1) as of 6:33 AM Eastern on 13 Nov. See below)
I knew just enough about the new Metropolitan Opera General Manager-designate, Peter Gelb, to write a couple weeks ago in reply to a query about his appointment, "Not encouraging news. Not encouraging at all." And now I read confirmation of my worst fears. Reports notable culture journalist Norman Lebrecht:
When the Met sneezes, the rest of the opera world catches pneumonia.
So when the Met replaces its manager, the implications are felt sooner or later by everyone who sings, plays or attends opera in any setting larger than a church hall. And when the new boss is picked in a backroom deal, beyond artistic or public scrutiny, that's cause for alarm. And when I tell you that the new man has done more over the past decade to remove classical music and opera from public consumption, you will understand that the simmering scandal at the Met has the gelignite to blow a hole in opera far larger than all the petty mishaps of English, Scottish and French national operas put together.
[U]nless Gelb has undergone a Damascene conversion this past week, his contempt for artistic values and his adulation of mass entertainment point to an historic shift in Met priorities — and hence in the agendas of opera singers and opera houses the world over. Gelb boasts that ‘art can be both commercially successful and artistically successful’ — in that order. Divas will have to learn to change their tune. This is the dawning of a new age of Popera.
And so the Met finally succumbs. Score another triumph for pop culture values and their insidious and pernicious infestation of all domains of high culture.
Read the whole sad and ugly tale here.
Update (6:33 AM Eastern on 13 Nov): Weblogger Lisa Hirsch makes thoughtful comment.