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Subject: Some Thoughts on the Met: Size, Capacity, Mini-Met etc.
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Wed, 13 Jun 2018 11:34:46 -0400
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I keep hearing that the Met needs to “fill 3,800” seats every night.  To the 
best of my knowledge, no performing arts facility was ever planned or built 
with the notion that every seat would be sold every night.  Unless 
you’re “Hamilton” or “Bruce Springsteen,” most shows the world over have 
rarely been “sold out.”  This was true 100 years ago, and remains so 
today.  There is a reason the word “capacity” or phrase is used:  it is the 
MAXIMUM amount of people that can occupy a space, not the “need” to 
occupy that space night-after-night.  To that end, I couldn’t agree more 
with Mr. Shepherd about the notion of tearing down Family Circle – or any 
rear portion of the Met makes little sense.  People who keep complaining 
about lack of intimacy at the Met should realize, the place has been there 
for 50 years now, it’s not going to get any smaller.  Ever.  

While there seem to have been more sold out nights in the late 90’s than 
now, I’ve noticed that after 9/11 the Met never seemed to fully bounce 
back, outside of rare nights which have sold out or come close. It was 
understandable at first – all of the arts in NYC seemed to take a hit – but 
now, Broadway IS selling out, and having record seasons, often with 
(pardon the language) fairly shitty shows, based on TV shows or movies, 
cobbled together with pre-existing pop songs and nostalgia.  I’ve supported 
Gelb in a lot of his decisions – and still do, but if he can’t figure out how to 
simulate the successes that are happening in Vienna, London, Paris and
Germany, then the Board needs to find someone who can.  There are 
probably more than a few American candidates that could probably fit the 
bill, but the Met, being an international house might, perhaps, consider 
someone with a more international pedigree to shake things up and add 
some cache.  It’s one of a handful of the most famous houses in the world, 
for Pete’s sake.  

I’m among those who would like to see the Met produce more intimate, 
smaller scale works.  What, with the proliferation and popularity of baroque 
opera it would be nice to have a space to put on some Monteverdi, Handel, 
Hasse, Vivaldi, et al.  To operate another theatre under The Met’s auspices 
is not a fiscally reasonable thing to consider, but what about renting an 
already existing theatre?  Many (most?) theatres on and off Broadway have 
weekly rates – (two rates, really) that include the rental of the theatre, 
administrative/ticket/staff costs, etc.  

Many performing arts groups, troupes, bands, etc. negotiate deals and the 
Met could, say, mount, a production of Monteverdi’s “Il ritorno d’Ulisse in 
patria” or Rameau’s “Castor et Pollux” in a 500 seat theatre for likely under 
$10,000 a week.  A week of tech and rehearsals in the theatre with a week 
long run of 5 performances would cost $20,000 plus production costs, artist 
fees, etc.  Even at $80 a pop, this has the potential to yield gross ticket 
sales of $200,000.  These are just guestimates based upon a little research 
on theatre rentals in NYC, but were I running the Met, it’s definitely 
something I’d consider doing and until proven otherwise, it couldn’t hurt!

p.

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