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May 22, 2012

In the Arts: Metropolitan Opera Clamps Down on Magazine

A magazine that is published by Metropolitan Opera Guild, the fundraising arm of the opera company, has announced that, on orders from the guild, it will no longer review the opera company’s productions, The New York Times reports.

The move was prompted by the opera company’s displeasure with the magazine's criticisms of some of the Met’s production. The magazine recently published a negative review of the opera’s new production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle last month and followed it this month with an essay that was highly critical of the direction the opera company is taking.

Peter Gelb, head of the opera company, told the newspaper that the decision was made “in collaboration with the guild” but that he never warmed to the idea that the nonprofit guild was supporting a publication that could criticize the opera’s productions.

Some experts in the opera world view the decision as censorship. “It is irrational and interferes with the business of presenting artistic events,” said Nathalie Wagner, president of the Wagner Society of New York and a longtime Opera News subscriber. “Censorship doesn’t work in other countries, and it should not exist here.”