Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Met on $15 a day

A few weeks ago, I was in New York and was hoping to see opera superstar, Anna Netrebko, take on the lead role in the Metropolitan Opera Production of La Boheme. Of course, like anything in New York, there was one small problem- the cost of tickets was prohibitively expensive, with even the nose-bleed seats priced well above my budget. Enter Peter Gelb, the new general manager of the MET.

Before coming to the MET, Gelb transformed the vision of the SONY Classical record label, from a dying classical label, struggling to reach a large audience to a roster of mega-stars with records tailored to a wide range of listeners, while still retaining their "classical" integrity. The MET hoped to capture some of Gelb's magical marketing skills as well, and brought him on board in 2006.

His initial vision was to "build on the Met's great strengths" while reconnecting the company "to a broader public." In addition to increasing the number of young opera superstars on the roster, Gelb also started marketing MET broadcasts to an unusual arena... the local movie cinema. Today, an entirely new audience can go to the movie theater on a Saturday afternoon, kick back with some popcorn, and watch 3 hours of Il barbiere di Siviglia in high-definition.

Lastly, and most important to my earlier situation, Gelb devised a scheme make last-minute student rush tickets available before most performances. Student rush tickets are not anything revolutionary in the performance world, but allowing a student to get a last-minute ticket for $15 at one of the biggest stages in the world was initially quite a challenge for the MET. After all, It borrows some of the same pricing mentality used in Airplane ticket sales...

So, I got my $15 student rush ticket, and watched in excellent opera in great seats next to people who had paid close to $250 for their tickets...

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