Posted by: operatheaterink | September 30, 2019

Commentary: Should Peter Gelb be Fired? Sept 30, 2019

Maybe He Just Needs Management Training

Peter Gelb at the Peabody Awards

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb clearly did not handle the removal of Plácido Domingo from the cast of “Macbeth” very well. In fact, he handled it so poorly that now, maybe it is Gelb who should go.

Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman wrote on Twitter: “Plácido Domingo should be removed from the show — and if he isn’t, the director of the Met should be removed too.”

So Gelb pushed Domingo out, and now I think that it is time to figure out what to do about Gelb.

I do not believe that politicians should dictate to opera company managers how they should run their companies. Does the senator know anything about opera? Does the senator know anything about Plácido Domingo? I somehow doubt it. It is more likely that he wants to appeal to his #MeToo constituents so that they will vote for him during his next re-election campaign.

And Gelb fell into his trap.

I thought that Gelb was doing a fair job until he ousted Domingo. Gelb had said that Domingo would go onstage as planned for the opening of “Macbeth,” since Gelb said he lacked information and was waiting for the Los Angeles Opera investigation to conclude. The accusations from the accusers were mostly anonymous and Domingo should have been allowed due process under the law, although nothing he was accused of was illegal. The information was not corroborated, Gelb said.

I thought Gelb was going in the right direction. But then after the “Macbeth” dress rehearsal, he met with some of the women in the chorus and orchestra who had complained that they felt awkward with Domingo on the stage while performing. After that meeting, Gelb caved in. Apparently the women felt a power struggle between them and the higher-ups. They felt that they deserved to be considered equally with Domingo even though he has sung as a star at the Met for more than 40 years and has a history they could not even come close to achieving. But Gelb caved in.

Domingo was very kind and announced that he would be leaving the production and subsequent productions at the Met. And Gelb wrote that Domingo had “agreed” to resign.

Now that is loyalty for you. Frankly, the Metropolitan Opera owes a lot more to Domingo than to Gelb. Gelb’s history at the Met is many years less than Domingo’s. The chorus and orchestra members should have been thrilled to sing with such an admired and esteemed artist in the cast of “Macbeth.” Supposedly Domingo has been acting the way the accusers accused beginning 30 years ago or more, and now he has slowed down to a stop. So do you mean to tell me that “now” they feel awkward and that this is something new? I don’t think so.

This was not like the situation with James Levine. Levine was part of the Met’s leadership. He was the music director and he had been accused of offenses that did involve the law.

So Gelb did not use his brain when it came to handling the situation at the Met last week.

Frankly, it is his job to handle such situations admirably. Maybe Gelb should not be “out.” But he certainly needs some management training for a situation handled poorly that will affect Domingo and his family for the rest of their lives.

Yes, it started with the press. Then it continued with a senator to Gelb.

But now, finally, Domingo is getting support from some of his peers: Anna Netrebko, Olga Borodina, and Maria Guleghina. Plus a woman in the chorus announced that she did not attend the Saturday meeting and had no idea who the chorus singers were that were complaining. She had nothing but admirable remarks to say about singing with Domingo.

In addition, Gelb’s wife conducted a production a few years ago at the Los Angeles Opera, the company that Domingo heads. I wonder how that happened. I am not saying that Gelb’s wife was not qualified. I am saying that Domingo goes out of his way to help artists further their careers.

Peter Gelb owes Domingo a major apology. I don’t expect that Domingo will change his mind and will ever sing at the Met again. But Gelb should go down on his knees and apologize to Domingo, and then a big gala should be held, not with Domingo singing, but in honor of Domingo for all the years he has sung at the Met.