First reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, the Metropolitan Opera announced that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them to cancel their entire 2020-2021 season. They will reopen September 2021, at the earliest.
This decision will likely affect organizations across New York State, but around the country as well. Many arts organizations are attempting to slowly reopen in accordance with social distancing guidelines, but this decision may put an end to that.
The pandemic closed the Met in mid-March, costing the Met $150 million in revenue and leaving about 1000 employees, including its orchestra and chorus, furloughed without pay for almost six months now.
Peter Gelb, the general manager for the Met, has announced an ambitious 2021-22 lineup to reassure its donors and patrons that they will remain strong. In addition, Gelb said he will ask the company’s unions to agree to cost-cutting concessions that will be necessary post-pandemic.
The Met plans to open with Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” the first opera that they will perform by a Black composer. This is in part due to the rise in racial awareness that is occurring around the country, but also an effort of the Met to find more of a balance between contemporary works and the staples that made them famous in the first place.
Two lives at the Metropolitan Opera have already been lost to the virus: Vincent J. Lionti, a violist, and Joel Revzen, an assistant director. The scheduled star of Puccini’s Turandot next season, Anna Netrebko, announced that she had been hospitalized due to the virus.
Having already sold $20 million in revenue for 2021-22, the concern now is less about the Met Opera, and more about the other organizations that may look at the Met and their cancellation as a precedent.