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James Levine Returns...and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet is Dissolved?

By Logan K. Young l.young@classicalite.com on May 23, 2013 03:41 PM EDT
Metropolitan Opera Ballet Cast member Aaron Loux, playing the paladin part of Rinaldo, dances during a dress rehearsal of Rossini's 'Armida' at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (April 9, 2010). (Photo : Reuters)

Effective just hours after James Levine's return from convalescence, after more than 100 years dancing, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet will move no more.

And apropos of our time, the Met's resident ballet ended not with a bang, but a buyout.

Whimpered down from 16 members in 2011, the eight remaining dancers of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet corps agreed Monday to leave the company, The New York Times reports.

This gang of eight accepted a package that includes $75,000 in severance and two additional years of health and dental coverage.

But as The Los Angeles Times' Jamie Wetherbe noted, there's still a "disagreement" on whether the Met ballet is done for good. 

Deborah Allton-Maher of the American Guild of Musical Artists (which represents the company's singers, dancers, stage managers, directors and other performers--save for orchestra personnel), said that the "goal was not to get rid of the ballet, but to reduce and restructure it." 

Meanwhile, Peter Gelb, general manager for the Met, said that whereas "significant performance of dance on our stage" will continue "it's hard to imagine that we will have a single, resident company." 

According to Gelb, the Met will simply hire dancers as needed per production, as it has done increasingly during the last several seasons.  

Most of the Western world's biggest opera companies--London's Royal Opera, Paris Opera, La Scala in Milan--do indeed have in-house ballet troupes.

Of course, in addition to dancing for opera, these ballet groups also have their own performance season.

Regardless, it's certainly the end of an era, as the Metropolitan Opera Ballet dates back to the company's founding in 1883. 

Finally, given Levine's triumphant homecoming, the timing of this dissolution sure does seem poor. 

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TagsJames Levine, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Deborah Allton-Maher, Peter Gelb