Thursday, June 02, 2016

Dissecting the Press Coverage

The NY Times demonstrated the power of the embargoed press release by having three articles about the changing of the guard at the Met posted about 30 seconds after the official press release was mailed out. In honor of that, here's some random commentary on the Met, YNS, and how the press, okay, the Times, is talking about it all.

First off, no one is the slightest bit surprised, perhaps owing to the fact that rumors had circulated for years that YNS was the Met's, or Peter Gelb's, first choice to succeed James Levine. The speed with which the announcement was made following Levine's decision to step down means that the negotiations had very likely been going on for some time.

I personally see it as a big problem that it will be four years before YNS goes from Music Director Designate to Music Director, but Peter Gelb tries to put a nice spin on it:
Long waits are not unusual in the classical music world, where major organizations and top talents typically plan their schedules four or five years in advance. Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said that he felt fortunate that Mr. Nézet-Séguin would be available by 2020. “It required some juggling for him to be able to come as early as then,” he said in an interview.
Riiiiiight. I mean, this is true, and yet it's unfortunate in the context of what the Met needs. Anthony Tommasini spells this out in detail in his analysis of the appointment. (Tommasini unfortunately continues to hallucinate fantasize about Esa-Pekka Salonen coming on board as an interim MD, a position he would share with Bernard Haitink, who is 87. Stop, already, and daydream about something realistic, like Salonen conducting regularly at the Met. Or the Met commissioning an opera from Salonen. But right you are, Tony,  about that Luisi appointment.)

There's been concern in the press / blogosphere / Twittersphere over how forward-looking YNS might be as MD of the Met. In the same article I've quoted above, there's this:
Mr. Nézet-Séguin said that he considered the Met “the standard-bearer of our art form in the world,” and that he looked forward to conducting a variety of works there, including forgotten masterpieces that he would like to revive and new works, including world premieres.
Some cautious optimism about future repertory is thus justified, though we won't know for a while what he has in mind. (At this early stage, he might not either, but let me say SCHREKER and also Symanowski's great opera King Roger, which seems to be coming into its own at long last. I will nominate Nelsons, Jurowski, or Salonen as potential conductors of all of these, although ahem King Roger might particularly appeal to YNS himself.) In any event, it would be hard to be less behind new operas than the reluctant Levine.

Color me puzzled by Tommasini's claim about Levine "making the operas of Debussy, Berg and Stravinsky central to the Met's repertory." Pelleas was performed 62 times before 1972 and has been performed about 55 more times since then. There've been 44 performances of Lulu and 69 of Wozzeck, of which 18 were before Levine. The Rake's Progress has gotten a big 26 performances, with 31 of Le Rossignol and 23 of Oedipus Rex. C'mon, it's purely blowing smoke to claim that those three composers are in any way "central."

Headlines We Didn't Use

Met Appoints First Openly Gay Music Director

YNS: Making Opera Gay Again

Press Release Confirms James Conlon's Availability for San Francisco Opera Job

Met Confirms That The Rumors Were Right

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