The Metropolitan Opera Guild has officially requested the nation's largest classical music magazine, Opera News, stop publishing criticism of their productions. Why? The writing is too negative for a publication connected to The Met. According to the New York Times, features editor Brian Kellow wrote an essay about the artistic direction of The Met for the May issue, "The public is becoming more dispirited each season by the pretentious and woefully misguided, misdirected productions foisted on them." Is it harsh? Yes. But it actually makes sense in the context of the full essay.
Peter Gelb, the current creative director of the Met, has a history of trying to control the discussion of his productions. It's hard to blame him. His job is to drive up subscriptions and earn money to keep the company in business. Opera can be a hard sell and bad press can really impact sales.
I think demanding that a magazine stop writing criticism of Met productions is a step too far. Criticism hurts. However, silencing critics who love the medium so much that they're willing to admit flaws means that you lose out on the glowing reviews that can sell tickets on your press material.
What do you think? Does Opera News have an obligation to keep discussion of the Metropolitan Opera Guild positive? Could any arts organization successfully silence critics? I know I've gotten a few "never again" e-mails from negative reviews, but that just means that I have to buy my own ticket or go as a plus one with someone else. Share your thoughts below.