While HD cinema broadcasts are generally considered to be the signature achievement of Peter Gelb’s Metropolitan Opera intendancy, the Met announced today that they will be launching several new “old media” initiatives. “Classical music has been fixated on finding a ‘new audience’ via Facebook and Twitter,” Gelb noted, “but most of our audience members don’t know what a Twitter is.” This project will include a number of publications such as books, sheet music, a TV miniseries, and LaserDiscs. “Maybe we’ll pick up some hipsters while we’re at it,” Gelb noted optimistically.
Forthcoming is Gelb’s History of Opera, a 300-page book to be published in May. Gelb’s history promises an easy-reading, contemporary perspective on why we love opera, particularly for those who find Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker’s monumental recent history insufficiently focused on the nineteenth century. (Readers are advised that the five pages devoted to the seventeenth century deal solely with the furnishings of Handel’s birth house.) For example, we discover that Mozart is great because conductors love him and a reasonable number of people can sing his work (though Gelb does not explain why he manages to locate these singers only occasionally).
Gelb’s chapter on star image through bel canto opera is innovative, though purists may object because he doesn’t mention Maria Callas and/or Joan Sutherland in every sentence. The chapter on Wagner is less successful, betraying a fascination with the technology of Bayreuth without clearly noting why we should care. London readers will be happy to find the chapter on production concerns solely the Royal Opera House and English National Opera. Reports that the book was ghostwritten by a snarky, underfunded musicology grad student could not be confirmed.
|A recommender is rumored to be a new addition to the Met’s website|
The second major project will be a TV miniseries, to be hosted by Met favorite Danielle De Niese. It is promoted as a combination between recent hit Cosmos and The Real Housewives of New Jersey, providing both a glimpse into the glamor and drama backstage (focused on De Niese’s own performance in the major diva role of Despina) and a 4D visualization of the Met house, promising an enhanced audience experience that is unmatched by any actual visit to the opera house. (Also, no one will make a cursory search of your handbag.)
Subsequent episodes will feature Diana Damrau’s hilarious Meryl Streep impression, stand-up opera comedy by Matthias Goerne, and a workout video led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Anja Harteros has unfortunately withdrawn from the series for personal reasons; she will replaced by Angela Gheorghiu, who is sure to be a reality TV star. Judges Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be playing the roles of Statler and Waldorf.
Additional elements of the old media project includes branded sheet music, which Gelb heard really raked it in for a certain Viennese theater back in 1908. An opera karaoke machine is also planned. When asked if this karaoke might be part of the Met’s contingency plan in the event of a strike in September 2014, Gelb grimaced and said, “no comment. Have you always wanted to sing Cherubino, by any chance?”