The Metropolitan Opera has announced that it will withdraw up to $30 million from its endowment, give fewer performances next season, and accelerate its embrace of contemporary works.
The news comes after a lackluster box office over the past month and due to the fact that certain modern works like “Fire Shut up in My Bones and “The Hours” are selling better than classics.
According to the New York Times, the shift comes as “the pandemic and its aftermath continue to roil the Met.”
In a statement, General Manager Peter Gelb said, “The challenges are greater than ever. The only path forward is reinvention.”
The Met’s decision to dip into its endowment of $306 million comes as a way to cover operating expenses this season and to help offset weak ticket sales and a cash shortfall that emerged as some donors were reluctant to accelerate pledged gifts amid the stock market downturn.
Gelb said he hopes to replenish the endowment in the coming months.
The Met also announced that it will cut its performances by 10 percent next season. This season it is giving 215 performances.
According to the New York Times, attendance has been generally anemic to classic works like “Don Carlos,” which sold a total of 40 percent. Other works with low ticket sales have included “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” and “Peter Grimes.”
In comparison “The Hours” this season drew sold-out houses and last season “Fire Shut up in My Bones” was also sold out.
Gelb also announced that “the Met will open each season with a new production of a contemporary work” with Jake Heggie’s 2000 opera “Dead Man Walking” set to kick off the 2023-24 season. Next season will also include the premieres of Anthony Davis’s reworked “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” Daniel Catán’s Spanish language “Florencia en el Amazonas” and John Adams’s “El Niño.”
Additionally, the company will revive “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” and “The Hours,” with Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, and Kelli O’Hara returning.
Regarding the move, Gelb added that major stars are increasingly interested in performing music by living composers.