It had hoped to reopen on New Year’s Eve this year.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
September 23, 2020
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Manhattan’s Metropolitan Opera will remain dark until at least September 2021, The New York Times reports.

The Met — the largest performing arts organization in the U.S. — had hoped to reopen its 3,800-seat opera house on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on New Year’s Eve. Its orchestra and chorus have been furloughed without pay since April, shortly after New York City shut down everything beyond essential services to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Met’s closure earlier this year marked the first time in more than a century that New Yorkers have gone without access to the opera. While it has been closed, the Metropolitan Opera lost violist Vincent J. Lionti and assistant conductor Joel Revzen to COVID-19. It’s reigning diva, Anna Netrebko, was also hospitalized after getting COVID-19 at a performance at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, The New York Times reported.

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When it does reopen in 2021, the Metropolitan Opera plans to experiment with earlier curtain times, shorter performances, and more family-friendly offerings. The first performance it has planned for its reopening, Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” will be its first by a Black composer, according to The New York Times.

But making it to that September opening date will be a challenge for the Met, whose operating budget for a normal season is around $300 million, The New York Times reports. Reduced seating capacity to prevent the spread of coronavirus, combined with an audience who skews older and is more susceptible to COVID-19, makes generating the revenue necessary to pay those bills an even bigger challenge.

To cut costs while seats are empty, Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, told The New York Times that he’s looking to negotiate with unions to bring down labor costs. The Boston Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera have taken a similar approach, with San Francisco cutting its orchestra’s salary in half this season.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.