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Subject: Met Titles | Are they worth writing to Peter Gelb about ?
From: Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:55:53 -0500

text/plain (60 lines)

Dear Listers,

Something has been bugging me for a while, and I’d like to sound you out as to whether 
you think it would be worth my while writing to Peter Gelb about it.

Recently I attended a performance of “Guillaume Tell” at the Met, and was very much 
annoyed that there were no titles in French.  Only English, German, and Spanish, a 
language that has never been associated with opera and which one seldom hears spoken 
at the Met during intermissions.  French and Italian titles seem to be available only when 
the opera being performed is in one of those two languages, but German and Spanish are 
always available.  Even though my native language is French and I am still to this day 
perfectly bilingual, I had never heard “Guillaume Tell” before, and while a few of the 
singers had excellent French and were understandable, the French of some of the others 
was not so excellent and I couldn’t understand them.  I would have appreciated having 
titles in French.

When I saw “Manon” at the Met a couple of years ago, and “Les Pęcheurs de Perles” 
earlier this year, French-language titles were available.  (Not that I needed them, 
knowing both of those operas by heart.)  So why were they not available for “Guillaume 
Tell,” a work far less familiar to the vast majority of operagoers than the other two ?

At the first intermission I complained to the House Manager, a charming man who 
seemed genuinely startled and puzzled to hear that there were no titles in French.  He 
had assumed all along that French titles were available, as they were for Manon and PdP, 
so the information I conveyed was news to him.  He suggested that I write to Peter Gelb 
and complain, and wrote Gelb’s mailing address on the back of his business card, which I 
still have.  I said that if I did so my letter would probably be thrown into the proverbial 
File 13 by some minion in Gelb’s office, and he replied that I shouldn’t think that at all, 
that Gelb reads all letters to subscribers.  In addition, he said, as part of his job as House 
Manager, he personally hands to Gelb a written performance report or log after each 
performance, and he would be sure to mention my complaint in his performance report.

So what do you all think ?  Should I write to Gelb or spare myself the waste of time and 
effort ?

Just for the record, Lynne Price and I adored the opera, exquisite music and singing, the 
orchestra and chorus were in superb form, but we HATED the production for its sheer “in-
your-face” ugliness and absurdity.  As for that leather S&M “ballet,” I thought there were 
special clubs for people who are into that sort of thing.

Thanks and all the best,


Alain Letort
Washington, D.C.
The Belly of the Beast

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