The Metropolitan Opera’s ban on Opera News reviewing its productions was short-lived. Opera fans and classical-music journalists were not sympathetic to Met GM Peter Gelb’s argument that the publication, which is published by an affiliate of the Met, should not write critically about the company, whose recent production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle has had a mixed reception.
“I think I made a mistake,” Gelb told the Times’ Daniel J. Wakin. “The Metropolitan Opera only exists with the good will of the public. Clearly the public would miss Opera News not being able to review the Met, and we are responding to that.”
In his comments to Wakin, Gelb referred to a “groundswell of disappointment,” which certainly extended as far as the arts-mediasphere. “Instead of batting away a bad review or hostile comment as one person’s opinion, he has taken to bullying the very people who care most about the art form he is ostensibly there to advance,” Justin Davidson wrote on Vulture. Davidson also noted that Gelb is the son of former New York Times managing editor Arthur Gelb.
“Does Gelb think that somehow more people will like the Ring if they can’t read the negative review in Opera News?” Washington Post classical critic Anne Midgette wrote. Gelb “has been made to look vindictive, repressive, isolated and ultimately weak,” wrote Norman Lebrecht, who’d previously called for reviewers to boycott the Met. “It will take him a long time to live this down.”