On July 30th, Baritone Michael Mayes posted an article from Huffington Post on Facebook written by a Met chorister. The title of said article was "I have not had a Christmas with my family for 15 years."
La Cieca (I'll call him that because I guess anonymity is a thing to be respected for bloggers) was the first to comment "Your buddy (name omitted) colleague really should have taken moment to glance at the Met's calendar before he accepted a job there." Ouch, that seemed unnecessarily harsh. Besides being outright negative to begin with, that statement completely ignores the fact that the author obviously knew what the Met's schedule was like before he signed his contract. He was just making a point to show the amount of time he worked, and on holidays to boot.
Mr Mayes explained the Christmas quote (much better than I did) and La Cieca commented "ER doctors make $200K a year." Um, ok. I state random facts too. "A horses penis, when erect, grows 3 to 4 times the size from when it is limp, proving that horses are growers, not showers." Unlike La Cieca's random fact, mine is true. ER doctors in NYC average $300K a year. And that doesn't include benefits, or overtime pay for working on holidays etc. I'll assume LC (tired of typing La Cieca so damn much) was referring to Peter Gelb's claim that Met choristers make $200K a year. That too, is incorrect. I know this because 1- I read more than just Mr Gelb's press releases, and 2- I ASKED AN ACTUAL CHORISTER. More than one, in fact. Even with benefits included, the sum doesn't equal $200K a year.
The conversation continued, with other posters jumping in, mainly supporting Mr Mayes's post. The main argument seemed to be LC saying Met choristers were overpaid, and needed to suck it up and quit their bitching. Ok, he/she is entitled to their opinion. I will say this though, your opinion is highly uniformed. You should take a second out of your obviously busy schedule to read some other articles on the Met labor situation besides the ones Gelb sends to you to back. Just a thought.
The conversation did veer off topic a bit, and LC seemed to take the stance that singing opera was something everyone could do. "Right: Singing is a magic art given to a very few; the rest of the world is Muggles." Uh, not really a magical power, but it is a specific set of talents and skills that not everyone posesses. Just like being a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher, or a janitor. Not everyone has the skills or talent to be anything they want. Singers were born with, and have worked very hard and long, to cultivate those talents. That's how they got to be where they are. If everyone could do anything they wanted, I would be a professional Lottery winner. This opera thing is hard!
Harry Potter: Wizard, counter tenor
LC later in the conversation said "pointless to argue with singers." Why, because you don't like losing arguments? For someone who runs a blog about opera and singers, your lack of respect for singers seems unusual to say the least.
Back on the topic of the Met's labor negotiations, LC said "You're right: the Met should pay the chorus a million dollars a year and pick them all up in limousines to take them to work. Cancel all the new productions and for that matter don't stage any of the operas: just line the chorus up and let them make those sweet, sweet noises God put in their throats. And after the performance from the chorus dressing room the very first thing you will hear is, 'Uh, I asked for a PLATINUM toilet seat, not gold!'" Are there such a thing as gold and platinum toilet seats? I want one! I'm sure LC was being facetious, but thats not even close to what the choristers are looking for. They are looking for pay equal to the work they do. And they are looking for honesty and accountability from the management of the Met.
Once again the conversation went off topic, and LC began making his point that "artist doesn't just mean singers." His belief is that audience members are artists too, saying "the audience works almost as hard as the people on stage -- harder sometimes I think." Wow. LC must have never been on stage before in his life. That shit is hard! I know sitting in the audience is hard too, those chairs are so uncomfortable! And listening?! Don't even get me started. Takes a true artist to use one of his 5 senses...
Other great quotes form this epic Facebook conversation include "I feel like I'm punching fog" in reference to having this conversation he/she instigated, and "Nobody is arguing that the chorus should be thrown out in the street or that their children should have their penicillin taken away." In reference to this last quote, actually, Gelb is arguing that. From Alan Gordon's Facebook page; "During AGMA negotiations yesterday with the Met, we reminded Peter Gelb that there were several single mothers in the chorus who had severely disabled children needing constant medical care and other choristers who had children needing special medications, all of whom would be endangered if their health insurance was cut off when he locks out the performers, and we proposed that even if he fulfills his lockout threat on 8/1 he should keep health insurance in effect until an eventually negotiated deal, so as not to intentionally and unnecessarily hurt his own people. Gelb's response was that he had to cut off their health insurance to give him 'leverage' in the negotiations." Ouch...
The conversation ran to a close as Mr Mayes grew annoyed with the pointlessness of the conversations, and told LC to bugger off. LC ended his contributions to the thread by saying, "okay, you asked for it." Mr Mayes asked him if that was a threat, LC never responded.
This kind of negative, ill informed crap is just too much for me. That's why I'm boycotting Parterre Box. To be completely honest, I never really read it before. Just too negative. This business is hard enough without people sitting on the sidelines throwing feces. So, I'm boycotting, and I hope you do too.
Oh, and then there is this- after posting on this blog a few days ago that I was boycotting, I received this comment.