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Subject: Re: "Restoring" the Old Met (was Re: Helen Traubel reissue)
From: RAYMOND GOUIN <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:RAYMOND GOUIN <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:18:10 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain
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I was briefly involved in the so-called "effort" to save "the Old Met".  It was all talk  -- no action, no organization.   "Isn't it terrible!  What can we do?" pretty much sums up the effort.  It garnered only two supporters in the New York General Assembly out of 150 members, and those were as a favor to a couple of vocal constituents -- again, not from committees or other organizations formed to save the old Met. 


As to the continuing and increasing unsuitability of the old Met, in addition to the reasons you stated, there had been too many photographs published over the years of the Met's sets from performances completed, standing outside leaning against the building in the rain or snow because there was no room to keep them inside, waiting to be picked up and transported back into storage.


While the need for revenue from the real estate was one of the reasons the old Met was torn down, there was another reason of far greater import.  What the Met's management feared the most was a saved and refurbished house that would become the home of a competing opera company (and NYCO and at least three or four other groups were known to be waiting, salivating in the background, in the hope that such would happen).  One of the things that the much recently maligned Bing made certain off is that such would not happen.  The political groundwork was early and well laid to assure that no action would be taken in Albany in support of saving the old house, and a formidable  juggernaut had been assembled and was in waiting (and used) if even the slightest whiff of smoke indicated a source of possible action to save the old house.


I had access and regular contact with the Met's management during this time period, so I know that of which I write.  In 1966 there was a dual celebration -- in addition to celebrating the opening of the new house, there was a contemporaneous and prolonged "happy dance" at the success of the campaign to keep the old Met from being saved.


Best.

Ray

> 
>     On August 20, 2017 at 1:52 PM "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>     Arbe Bareis wrote:
> 
>     "Bing had one huge sin: The New Met. The old one should have been venerated and
>     restored."
> 
>     Sorry, that's just sentimental nonsense. "Restored" how? As even a cursory review of the
>     layout of the Old Met will reveal, there was no room to expand the stage facilities and bring
>     them into the 20th century, including adequate on-site set storage. There was no way to
>     expand the rehearsal areas. There was no way to improve the dressing rooms (which Bing
>     described as "a rabbit warren, with plumbing than most rabbits would not have tolerated").
>     There was no way to rectify the atrocious sight-lines of a huge number of seats in the
>     auditorium. There was no way to expand the public areas. In short, there was no way to
>     convert the Old Met into an opera house that could function in the late 20th century and
>     beyond.
> 
>     Met managers since before Gatti had recognized that the house on Broadway was
>     completely inadequate in many basic respects, even in the drop-curtain era, and had been
>     agitating for a NEW opera house, NOT a revamped old one. The drawbacks of the old house
>     simply could not be fixed.
> 
>     Many of the great productions at the new house - e.g., the Merrill-O'Hearn "Die Frau ohne
>     Schatten" and "Rosenkavalier," the Zefferelli "Cav/Pag," "Boheme" and "Turandot," the
>     Schneider-Siemssen "Tristan," Ring (both of them) and "Tannhauser" - would have been
>     impossible in the old house. I, for one, would not want to forego those wonderful
>     experiences simply because some weepy opera fans had a sentimental attachment to the
>     old auditorium.
> 
>     And before someone says that the Old Met should not have been torn down, the Met needed
>     the revenue from the old site to build the new house.
> 
>     As Bing said at the Farewell Gala, "Every farewell hurts, no matter how long one may have
>     been looking forward to it."
> 
>     MDW
> 
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