Contemporary Operas Average 65 Percent of Audience Attendance During Metropolitan Opera 2023-24 Season

By Francisco Salazar

The Metropolitan Opera revealed its finances for 2023-24 season, including the fact that it had sold 72 percent of available tickets.

The number was up from the previous season which only saw 66 percent of available tickets sold. While overall there was a positive rise in ticket sales, the company has not fully recovered from prepandemic numbers which saw 75 percent ticket sales during the 2018-19 season.

According to the AP, “Factoring in discounted tickets, the Met took in 64 percent of its potential box-office revenue, an increase from 57 percent in 2022-23.”

General Manager Peter Gelb said that single-ticket buyers, who amount to 85 percent of the audience, averaged 44-years-old and the subscription audience averaged 70.

According to the New York Times, Gelb said that the contemporary operas helped to bring in new audiences. This season saw 84,934 new ticket buyers this year with about 21,000 purchased tickets for a contemporary opera; about 10 percent of those then bought tickets for another production.

However, not all was positive in the end of the year report.

The company saw mixed results in their contemporary operas, which Gelb had said were outperforming classic works last season.

In terms of contemporary operas, which were at the forefront of Gelb and Yannick Nezet-Seguin’s plan moving forward, the clearcut success story was Anthony Davis’ “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” drawing in a strong 78 percent attendance. Overall, this opera came in behind only three other operas on the seas – “The Magic Flute (87 percent),” “Carmen (81 percent),” and “Turandot (82 percent).”

Coming in second place in terms of contemporary opera attendance was “Florencia en el Amazonas,” the first-ever Latin American opera presented at the Met and the first-ever staged Spanish-language opera (regarding the other Spanish-language operas present at the Met, “La Vida Breve” was presented in French and “Goyescas” was presented in a concert form). “Florencia” had 68 percent audience attendance.

Then came a revival of Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” with 65 percent audience attendance and the season-opening “Dead Man Walking” with 62 percent. At the bottom of the contemporary work’s audience attendance were the star-studded “The Hours” (61 percent) and John Adams’ “El Nino” with only 58 percent audience attendance.

Per the report, Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb had no idea why some of the contemporary operas did not register as much audience attendance.

“If we knew what would result in a sold-out house,” he said, “everything would be sold out.”

Of course, some of the classic works also had mixed results with Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” selling 64 percent and Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” at the bottom of the list with 56 percent. Meanwhile, Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”  sold 75 percent, while “La Bohème”  sold 74 percent, and Verdi’s “Nabucco” had 72 percent attendance. Finally the new production of “La Forza del Destino” sold 71 percent of its available tickets.

In its financial report, the Met also releases its tax form for the year ending last July 31. The form said that Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin earned $1,307,583, a raise from $1,195,702 while Gelb earned $1,379,032, up from $1,094,327.

The report added that the revenue was up to $303.1 million from $281.6 million in 2022-23. However, contributions and grants stayed the same at $185.1 million.