After the pandemic forced the Metropolitan Opera to close in March 2020, preparations are being made for the return to the stage.
The upcoming 2021–22 season is scheduled to present 196 performances of 22 operas — including four Met premieres, six new productions, 16 audience favorites.
The season opener will feature Terence Blanchard’s "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," starring operatic baritone Will Liverman.
The Met usually operates on $300 million each year, according to the New York Times, with ticket revenue reaching $27 million a season.
After over a year out of action, tickets sold for this year’s season are at $20 million so far. Subscriptions are down by one quarter from pre-pandemic times, but officials forecast that subscribers will begin to renew when they feel safe enough about attending performances.
While the company lost $150 million in profits during the pandemic, the recent high rate of sales is an encouraging sign that audiences will steadily return to theaters. The most recent example was the successful performances of Verdi’s "Requiem," in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks earlier this month.
Due to financial uncertainty, the Met has sought concessions from its unions — some of which will be restored if and when box office sales reach pre-pandemic levels. This accompanies the Met’s unions reaching an agreement last month for a collective bargaining agreement and return to the stage.
The Met will continue to enforce COVID-safe rules and is implementing a strict vaccination mandate, especially amid renewed concerns surrounding the Delta variant.
Furthermore, since children under 12 are not able to be vaccinated yet, younger opera characters will now be played by older performers.
“On one hand, it’s frightening and frustrating to see the rate of infection,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager. “But it’s so thrilling to see the possibility within grasp of actually opening performances.”
Read more about the Met’s 2021-22 season here.