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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Met Opera Reverses Field

Metropolitan Opera Guild-published mag to resume reviewing the Met.
Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows: Opera News will write about the Met!
Image from The Sunday Morning Hangover.
In a move reminiscent of the gyrations of a certain mechanical stage set, the Metropolitan Opera has reversed its decision to crack down on Opera News, the publication put out monthly by the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

The reversal comes following a page one story by Daniel J. Wakin in the New York Times, in which Opera News editor in chief F. Paul Driscoll revealed that the magazine, which has been in business for 76 years, had decided to stop reviewing  performances at the opera house.

Mr. Driscoll's announcement followed complaints from Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb about a review of Götterdämmerung by Fred Cohn and an editorial by ON features editor Brian Kellow chronicling negative audience reactions to recent productions at the Met.

The  story went viral in the last 24 hours, with coverage on this blog, and in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and on opera blogs Parterre Box, The Rest is Noise and The Iron Tongue of Midnight. The story jumped the Atlantic and was picked up by Norman Lebrecht's Slipped Disc.

The press release is available here on the Metropolitan Opera's official website. It is reproduced in full below:

Opera News Will Continue to Review Metropolitan Opera Production
In view of the outpouring of reaction from opera fans about the recent decision to discontinue Met performance reviews in Opera News, the Met has decided to reverse this new editorial policy. From their postings on the internet, it is abundantly clear that opera fans would miss reading reviews about the Met in Opera News. Ultimately, the Met is here to serve the opera-loving public and has changed its decision because of the passionate response of the fans.

The Met and the Met Opera Guild, the publisher of Opera News, have been in discussions about the role of the Guild and how its programs and activities can best fulfill its mission of supporting the Metropolitan Opera. These discussions have included the role of reviews in Opera News, and whether they served that mission.  While the Met believed it did not make sense for a house organ that is published by the Guild and financed by the Met to continue to review Met productions, it has become clear that the reviews generate tremendous excitement and interest and will continue to have a place in Opera News.

The Metropolitan Opera is the largest opera house in North America, and the only one to conduct a "full" season from the end of September to the beginning of May. The company presents on an average of 27 operas in the course of a eight-month season, with seven new productions each season. Next year's offerings include L'Elisir d'Amore, Rigoletto, Un Ballo in Maschera, Parsifal, and Giulio Cesare.

On a personal note, Superconductor is glad that the opera company has come out strongly in favor of free speech and editorial criticism in the last 24 hours. Jean Sibelius said "There has never been a statue raised in the honor of a critic", but fair and honest reviewing of the arts by qualified journalists and music experts should always be encouraged.

This publication will continue its coverage of the Met, starting with this year's Metropolitan Opera Preview, coming this summer.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.