The Met may not be able to balance its books, but it sure knows how to tart up the numbers.
Sunday apparently set "a new record for opening day at the box office when single tickets for the 2010-11 season went on sale to the public yesterday. Total sales reached $2,653,676 (24,087 tickets) as compared to $2,505,793 (23,766 tickets) on the equivalent day last season, which was the previous record."
Pretty impressive, huh? One New York paper described it as a "high note". But look at those figures a little more closely.
The Met's total box office income last year was $93m. The $2,653,676 raised on the first day of sales is a mere 3% of this.
And house capacity is a smidgen under 4,000, so the 24,087 seats sold are the equivalent of just six full shows, out of a total 200-ish performances.
Of course the Met has already shifted a lot of tickets via subscription packages, which is why two of its new productions, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, are nearly sold out. But take a look at any other production and you'll see acres of empty seating. You can still buy seats - good ones - in almost any price category to see Anna Netrebko in Don Pasquale or Elina Garanca in Carmen. Unthinkable in any European house.
Peter Gelb must be crossing his fingers for record-breaking walk-ups to match.