The Met Opera season has had no COVID cancellations but sales have fallen

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FILE – People appear at Josie Robertson Plaza outside the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center in New York on March 12, 2020. The Metropolitan Opera sold 56% of its ticket dollar capacity this season, managing to pass 196 staged performances without cancellation but down from 69% in the last pre-pandemic season of 2018-19. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

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The Metropolitan Opera has sold 61% of available tickets this season after returning from a year-and-a-half absence, managing 196 staged performances without cancellation. Sales were down 75% in the last pre-pandemic season of 2018-19, but are considered a success.

“We consider it a triumph in that we started and we finished and we never missed a performance along the way,” Met chief executive Peter Gelb said.

When discounted tickets are factored in, the Met sold 56% of ticket dollar capacity this season, down from 69% from 2018-19.

Gelb addressed the audience ahead of Saturday night’s finale to congratulate the company and the public for coming through the season without a COVID-19 cancellation.

Before the pandemic, the 2019-20 season was on track to complete with 72% of dollar capacity and 76% of tickets sold. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the last 58 performances beginning March 12, leaving this season’s dollar capacity at 70%.

Ticket sales fell during the peak of the omicrom variant by as much as 44% in the second half of January, then approached 70% in May and June. As part of a planned schedule change ahead of the canceled 2020-21 season, the Met went dark for most of February and extended the season by a month.

“It was an unqualified success, even though the box office was below the levels it has been, due to the loss of foreign tourists,” Gelb said. “Generally, 20% of our ticket sales are foreign tourists, and we have sold 8% of our tickets to foreign tourists, and 30% of our tickets are generally sold to domestic tourists, and these sales have also declined. “

The company budgeted for an attendance shortfall over the next four years and made up for lost revenue by raising $130 million in additional funding on top of its annual funding. Gelb said the Met would end its financial year ending July 31 with a balanced budget.

Schedules for future seasons are reconfigured to include more contemporary works.

The Met’s 2021-22 season included Brett Dean’s “Hamlet” (2017), Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” (2019) and Matthew Aucoin’s “Eurydice” (2020). Blanchard’s composition was the first by a black composer from the company, which was launched in 1883.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who took over from James Levine as musical director in 2018-2019, directed “Fire” and “Eurydice” and will direct the stage creation next season of “The Hours” by Kevin Puts and “Champion”. de Blanchard (2013), on the boxer Emile Griffith.

“There are a lot more younger faces in the audience, and there’s more diversity in the audience,” Gelb said. “My hope and expectation is that when local audiences who have been afraid to come feel comfortable coming back, and when overseas tourism and domestic tourism reach their pre-pandemic levels, we will have audiences again. wider than before the pandemic.”

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