Monday, February 01, 2016

Met Governance, Again (and Again and Again)

Via Parterre  Box, a story in the Times by the estimable Michael Cooper raises the curtain on what's been going on at the Met recently. La Cieca calls it bizarre, and indeed some of the phrasing is very, very careful. But you don't need to read between the lines all that carefully to figure out the real story: James Levine was going to retire, and apparently Cooper was doing research on that, when a visit by Gelb, Levine, and Cooper to Levine's neurologist yielded a medication adjustment that will enable Levine to keep his gig for a while longer.

And that became the story, rather than an announcement of Levine's departure (or semi-retirement) at season end or when the 2016-17 season is announced.

Here's my honking big problem with it all:
And it surprised Mr. Gelb, who said in an interview that he had been in talk with Mr. Levine about announcing the conductor’s retirement after this season and making him the Met’s music director emeritus. But Mr. Gelb said he felt obligated, both morally and artistically, to see if changing Mr. Levine’s dosage would improve his upper body movement and help him get back to normal.
“He has supported this company, he has given everything to this company, and I feel the Met’s responsibility is to support him as long as we can,” Mr. Gelb, who briefed the Met’s board members on the situation on Monday, said in an interview. “If in fact it’s possible that by regulating his medication he will be able to conduct like the James Levine of before, that would be a miraculous turn of events that everyone here would embrace and cheer for.”
It's going on five years since Levine resigned from the BSO, and during those five years, he had two years of not conducting at all and an extremely limited schedule since 2013. Here's what I said in 2012 about the situation at the Met:
It's the Board's responsibility, first and foremost, to take care of the institution, but it looks as though their primary concern right now is taking care of James Levine. I understand their desire to have him as active as possible in an organization he has helped shape for so long. But their evident reluctance to contemplate life without Levine is a serious concern. It is not good for the Met to be so dependent on one individual.
It looks exactly the same right now. Peter, you're doing it wrong. You need to protect the Metropolitan Opera and provide for its future, but you're protecting Levine instead.


greg b said...

Hello Lisa....
I'm not quite sure what the message of your post is.
Without putting words in your mouth, I'd like to think that you are pointing out that Mr. Trump is still "in the hunt" and is still to be considered dangerous, but that we should all perhaps be taking a breath and going to our calm center place.
I don't want to be the one who starts a political thread here on your blog - after all, you brought up the subject - but I do think, very strongly, that the misogyny, racism, elitism, and xenophobia (in other words, the politics of fear) which is continually espoused by Mr. Trump has no place in a society which values - or claims to value - equal rights and equal compassion for all people.
I myself am supporting Mr. Sanders in his Quixote-like campaign. To me, he seems to be a man with a real heart and soul.
I hope you've not taken offense....
- best wishes from Greg

Lisa Hirsch said...

Hi, Greg -

Well, this particular post is about governance issues at the Metropolitan Opera. You probably meant to put it on Keep Calm and Count the Delegates. Could you repost your comments there, and then I will delete these comments and answer?

Lisa Hirsch said...

I've reposted the comment and replied....