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Welcome to the age of social media.
Thanks to swift, global reaction following yesterday’s shocking announcement that Metropolitan Opera Guild magazine Opera News would no longer carry reviews of Met productions, the New York City company announced an about-face this afternoon, stating that the publication will continue to review Met shows, after all.
Opera fans are not shy about voicing instant reactions. But rather than directing their catcalls at a stage performance, Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb was the target of venom as well as satirical attacks on Twitter, Facebook, on blogs and from critics in every English-speaking country.
The Metropolitan Opera Guild website was down for hours today.
The Opera News review ban had come on the heels of several incidents where Gelb, unhappy with unflattering reviews of Met productions and the direction of his leadership, had decided to circle the wagons around the Met brand.
Little did Gelb realise that, unlike the days when he ran Sony, a big label that, once upon a time, could decide who would and would not review and interview its artists, the age of social media not only does not recognize boundaries, but can instantly come together to break them down in instances where there are abuses of power or privilege.
To their credit, Gelb and the Met board became aware their mistake quickly.
They may also come to heed Oscar Wilde’s adage that there is only one thing worse than being spoken of badly is to not be spoken of at all.
Here is the full text of the press release distributed by the Metropolitan Opera two hours ago:
In view of the outpouring of reaction from opera fans about the recent decision to discontinue Met performance reviews in Opera News, the Met has decided to reverse this new editorial policy. From their postings on the internet, it is abundantly clear that opera fans would miss reading reviews about the Met in Opera News. Ultimately, the Met is here to serve the opera-loving public and has changed its decision because of the passionate response of the fans.
The Met and the Met Opera Guild, the publisher of Opera News, have been in discussions about the role of the Guild and how its programs and activities can best fulfill its mission of supporting the Metropolitan Opera. These discussions have included the role of reviews in Opera News, and whether they served that mission. While the Met believed it did not make sense for a house organ that is published by the Guild and financed by the Met to continue to review Met productions, it has become clear that the reviews generate tremendous excitement and interest and will continue to have a place in Opera News.