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No Country for Old Men: Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb Takes Pay Cut In Hopes of Curbing Company's Downward Spiral

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Jun 17, 2014 12:11 PM EDT

The Met Opera has hit some hard times, and those times just continue to fall closer to the floor as the company seeks concession from its workers amid labor talks and contract negotiations.

Thus, now wouldn't be the best time for general manager Peter Gelb to accidentally drop his pay stub in front of everyone--a ticket worth $1.8 million (but has said that he has taken a pay cut since).

A tax return disclosed the egregious sum, a return nonprofits are required to make each year per the New York Times, and it couldn't' have come at a more sensitive time.

If you haven't heard from us before, Classicalite reported that the Met opera had been in talks with its union workers to discuss pay cuts and renegotiate contracts. The struggle is considered "one of the biggest financial challenges in its 131-year history."

Per the New York Times:

The Met, which had an annual budget of $327 million for the 2012-13 season, is a complex organization that employs 1,600 full-time and seasonal workers and another 1,800 part-time workers; puts on more than 200 opera performances a year; and reaches millions of people through its broadcasts of operas to movie theaters, which Mr. Gelb began.

Have no fear, Shakespeare, because Gelb said in a statement that he'd be prepared to cut his pay even further to match the percentage taken from union employees.

While the Met may be seeking to cut its labor costs, the company is in dealing with a number of high hurdles to get over: declining box-office sales, rising costs for set-design and other necessities as well as tapping out their endowments and donors (the endowment was $253 million at the end of last year and that year's operating expenses drew $327 million).

Hopefully one of the most famous Operas in the world can keep itself afloat this season and next, but financial runnings seem to take a dear cost on the organization that is closer to the end of a pitfall than not.

A blast from the past but still a good marker, The Met's Centennial Gala below.

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TagsThe Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb

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