Mayhem at The Met: Cyberattacks and Changing Audiences Lead the Arts Institution to Pave a New Path Forward | Playbill

Classic Arts News Mayhem at The Met: Cyberattacks and Changing Audiences Lead the Arts Institution to Pave a New Path Forward

Following financial struggles and a cyberattack halting ticket sales, The Metropolitan Opera is re-evaluating how it operates, both artistically and commercially.

The Metropolitan Opera House Jonathan Tichler

Pandemic struggles have led to full-on pandemonium at The Metropolitan Opera, where falling ticket sales and a cyberattack has struck the renowned arts institution, according to reporting by The New York Times. The Met has been serving as New York's most acclaimed source of opera repertory since 1883. 

Earlier in December, a cyberattack destabilized the Met's website and box office systems, halting ticket sales for nine consecutive days. During this peak period of holiday tourism, the company usually accrues around $200,000 in daily sales, meaning around $1 million of potential profit was lost to the system breach. The Met states that this is the first major cyberattack they have experienced.

Yet, the show must go on, and in lieu of regular ticket sales, the Met continued performances throughout the week of the attack at a general admission price of $50, which was processed through a website hosted by Lincoln Center.

Prior to the cyberattack, however, the esteemed opera company was already facing trouble, experiencing steadily declining ticket sales since its return from the shutdown of live arts entertainment in New York City at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Met announced December 26 they would be withdrawing up to $30 million from their endowment in addition to reducing the amount of performances next season, and pivoting towards producing more contemporary works in hopes of drawing in new audiences. Modern works have reportedly been outselling older, classic operas, and the decision marks a wake-up call in the New York arts industry that "the only path forward is reinvention," according to the Met's general manager Peter Gelb. This was exemplified recently by the critical and commercial success of The Hours, starring Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, and Kelli O'Hara.

Going forward, every season at The Metropolitan Opera will commence with a contemporary opera, starting in 2023 with Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking making its Metropolitan Opera premiere. 

See Production Photos of The Hours starring Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, and Kelli O'Hara at The Metropolitan Opera

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