The Ruffled Feathers of Opera News

operanews  The Ruffled Feathers of Opera News

The PR Verdict: “D” for the Metropolitan Opera and Opera News.

What a puzzling (and entertaining) fuss at Opera News, the venerable classical music magazine, published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the fund raising affiliate of NY Metropolitan Opera.  Feathers have been ruffled by the magazine’s decision to no longer review the productions of its parent, New York Metropolitan Opera.

Peter Gelb, the controversial head of Met Opera gave an interview to the NYTimes confirming the decision was made in collaboration with the Met’s Guild.  The Editor of Opera News then gave perfunctory confirmation that the magazine is no longer reviewing Met Opera productions.  He also added that no other opera company has been banished from its review pages.

Whispers suggest that the policy is prompted by the Met, annoyed with recent negative reviews of its own productions.  Conspiracy theorists are claiming censorship.   Whatever the case, negative reviews of costly Met Opera productions, published in an affiliate magazine, hardly enhance fund raising.

The PR Verdict: “D” for the Metropolitan Opera and Opera News.  The diva in this case should have let the understudy do the talking.

PR Takeaway.  Who explains an issue to the media is as important as what is said.  To minimise the suggestion that there was undue influence from the Met, the ONLY person who should have spoken to the media was the editor of Opera News . The key message might have been that reviews would no longer be published to minimise conflicts of interest with current fundraising drives.  This was one case where Peter Gelb, General Manager for Met Opera, would have been better advised to be unavailable for comment and let the editor of Opera News do all the talking.

UPDATE : Since publication of the NYTimes article,  Metropolitan Opera has reversed its decision. The Met issued a statement late yesterday that it has changed its decision “because of the passionate response of the fans.”

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What is Your PR Verdict?

  1. jessica bernberg says:

    It seems to me that if the Met made the decision that it would not allow Opera News to review the shows anymore, it could very well also make the editor keep his mouth shut about the decision.

  2. Paul Marrone says:

    Mr. Gelb yesterday admited a “mistake” which resulted from a groundswell of social media taking on his dictatorial decision to edit out all reviews of Met operas. Reviews of Met operas in Opera News will continue as they have for decades.

    Many of his productions are disasters and filled with anachronisms. Do the productions teams bother or care. More to the point on PR, executives “taking it out” on media, whether captive as Opera News may be or truly third-party, does not resolve the underlying issue. It ‘s the productions Mr. Gelb. Many executives pull adds from traditional media when they do not agree with published content -print or broadcast. The outcome? Another story and reflection on the personal brand of executive and that of the institution he serves. Intestinal fortitude and taking the high ground when careers are at stake but should be virtues honored more in the observance than the breach.

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