GP at the Met: Q&A with Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera

August 17th, 2010

Peter Gelb

Yesterday, Inside Thirteen had the opportunity to speak with Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, who gave us behind-the-scenes insight as to how Great Performances at the Met is produced.

Now in its 37th season on PBS, Great Performances at the Met gives viewers a front row seat at the Met’s premiere operas, and has long been a THIRTEEN viewer favorite.  This Thursday, the 2009-2010 season of the series concludes on THIRTEEN with Gioachino Rossini’s Armida, starring Renée Fleming and directed by Mary Zimmerman.  Tune in to this performance on Thursday, August 19 at 8 p.m., followed by an encore performance on Sunday, August 29 at 12:30 p.m.

Mr. Gelb answered our questions via email.

IT: Can you explain what season planning for Great Performances at the Met entails?

PG: The performances shown on PBS were all originally presented in movie theaters around the world as part of the Met’s Live in HD series. We treat these live transmissions as the first step in a Hollywood-style, multi-step movie release. First they’re shown live in movie theaters in 45 countries, then on Great Performances. They also end up on Met Player, our online streaming service at, which now has more than 30 HD productions that you can watch on your computer whenever you want. And many titles later end up on DVD. As with our longstanding radio broadcasts, it’s important for us to offer these performances on PBS, where audiences can enjoy them for free.

IT: How are the featured operas selected? What has been your favorite thus far?

PG: We present more than 25 different operas at the Met in a given season, so when we’re planning the HD series (and, in turn, Great Performances) we look to capture the wide range of repertory you can experience at the opera house. We try to select a good mix of operatic styles, the greatest stars, and a mix of new productions and revivals. Of course, the Met’s complicated scheduling inevitably enters the equation. There are really lots of factors. My favorite? Each production presents unique challenges and becomes my favorite — or at least the focus of all my attention — at the time I am working on it.

IT: Aside from hosting the performances, how has the Metropolitan Opera been involved in the production of this series?

PG: We produce each program from start to finish, including all the planning, production and post-production. By controlling all aspects of the productions we are able to ensure the most integrated and satisfying results for the public.