Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Warning over cuts for Met opera

The Met's 2009 production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice
Principal singers will be asked to perform for less money

New York's Metropolitan Opera has cancelled major productions and must find further cuts to avoid financial crisis, its general manager has warned.

Peter Gelb told the New York Times the value of Met funds had dropped from $300m (200.8m) to $100m (66.9m).

Donations for 2008/2009 were down by $10m (6.7m) with ticket sales likely to fall several million dollars short of predictions, he said.

Senior staff already taken 10% pay cuts, he added.

The economic crisis has had an effect on all cultural institutions and the Met is no exception
Peter Gelb
Metropolitan Opera

The rest of the staff would be asked to do the same at the end of April.

Mr Gelb would also be asking principal singers to perform for less money, he said.

"The economic crisis has had an effect on all cultural institutions and the Met is no exception.

"It's affected our endowment, it's affected our cash flow, it's affected our revenue streams - what we don't want is for it to affect our artistic productivity."

'Double digit'

But the Met has ruled out plans for an 8% increase in ticket prices because it thinks that could further discourage people from watching the company's productions.

Peter Gelb
If the word is concession, then say they're concessions
Peter Gelb on cuts

Mr Gelb said that, thanks partly to $7m (4.7m) savings made by administrative cuts, the Met hoped to achieve its goal for this year's budget of a $2m (1.3m) deficit.

But, without action, the shortfall could reach "double digit" millions next year, he added.

"We've asked the unions to work together with us to meet this challenge," he said.

"If the word is concession, then say they're concessions.

"I think the unions and the larger family of the Met believes in the Met as an institution.

"My belief is they will want to do what is right to keep the Met a vibrant, thriving organization."

Expensive revivals

The opera's financial problems meant the edge had been taken off plans for the 2009/2010 season, the New York Times reported.

It said a planned revival of Ghosts of Versailles, by John Corigliano, had been cancelled - to be replaced by Verdi's La Traviata.

Another expensive revival, Benvenuto Cellini, by Berlioz, had also been cancelled.

"It's a great sacrifice, frankly, because it's a great piece of repertory," Mr Gelb said.

The paper said revivals of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and Die Frau Ohne Schatten, by Richard Strauss, were being replaced by two other Strauss operas - Ariadne auf Naxos, and Elektra.

Mr Gelb, who took over as general manager in autumn 2006, said: "Because of all the success the Met has had in the past couple of years, we're in a better position to face this challenge than we were otherwise.

"When you go to the hospital for an operation when you're fit, you recover faster."

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