The most widely read classical music magazine on the continent has been muzzled: Opera News, published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, announced yesterday that it would no longer publish reviews or comment on Met productions.
Although the magazine is associated with the company, it is widely read and respected by North American fans of opera. Each issue for more than half of the publication’s 76-year history has carried reviews of Met productions alongside its detailed cast listings and programme details for upcoming shows.
On occasion, the reviews have been negative, but the company has, until now, let Opera News operate independently.
But current general manger Peter Gelb, who convinced classical radio station WQXR to pull a negative blog posting concerning Gelb and its run of Robert Lepage’s Ring Cycle earlier this month, has decided that a recent negative review of Götterdämmerung and a scathing editorial piece on the fruit of Gelb’s tenure were too much.
One of the reasons why Opera News has been able to maintain a circulation of about 100,000 is that it was able to comment freely on Met productions.
The loss of independent opinion on the work of the company could cause Met Opera Guild members who don’t read reviews in the New York Times to wonder why they should continue to support the Guild and, by extension, the opera company itself.