Met Opera uses its foundation again to weather the downturn

Met Opera uses its foundation again to weather the downturn

But the Met faces acute challenges. Putting on a live opera is expensive and requires elaborate sets, star singers, and a much larger orchestra and choir than the largest Broadway shows can provide. Inflation has increased the burden on the opera house as the costs of transportation and materials have risen sharply. And ticket revenue from in-person performances and theatrical broadcasts fell about $25 million last season compared to before the pandemic.

In addition to using its endowment funds, the Met announced it would take measures to cut costs and increase revenue suggested by the Boston Consulting Group, which conducted a pro bono study of the company's operations.

The Met has already begun giving fewer performances: 194 this season, down from 215 last season. It is planned to change the program in the next few years so that each opera has a shorter sequence; They may currently have two or three short runs, which may be spread out over the fall, winter and spring. This allows the company, which sometimes performs up to four different operas over the course of a week, to have fewer operas in rotation at any given time.

And the plans include playing more of the Met's most popular titles, such as Puccini's “La Bohème,” on weekends, where they tend to bring in significantly more revenue than lesser-known works. These changes, along with other cost-cutting measures and more targeted marketing efforts, are expected to generate approximately $25 million to $40 million for the company each year.

Even before the pandemic, the Met, the largest performing arts organization in the United States with an annual budget of about $312 million, was facing existential questions as the old model, in which subscribers bought tickets to many productions each year, faded .

The pandemic, which forced the company to close for more than a year and a half, exacerbated these problems. Many of the Met's older patrons stopped attending live performances and theatrical broadcasts as frequently and left in search of new audiences.