Met Opera cancels entire 2020-21 season over coronavirus

New York (AFP) –


New York's Metropolitan Opera on Wednesday announced the "painful" cancellation of its entire 2020-21 season over the still-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The decision marks a major blow for New York's decimated arts and culture industry, a moneymaker and cornerstone of life for the city that's seen its live arts institutions -- including the Broadway theater district -- go dark.

Covid-19 has the Metropolitan Opera suffering one of the most serious crises in its 137-year history. Shows now will not resume before September 2021 at the earliest.

"The inability to perform is taking a tremendous toll on our company," said the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, in a statement.

"Our future relies on making strong artistic strides, while collectively reducing our costs until the audience has fully returned."

The Met said it based its "painful" decision to cancel the entirety of its current season on the advice of health officials, saying it would be unsafe to resume rehearsals and productions until "a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement."

"Health officials have said this will likely take at least five to six months after a vaccine is initially made available," the organization said.

The pandemic forced the 3,800-seat opera house closed in mid-March. A few weeks later the company furloughed its some 1,000 full-time employees without pay.

The Met also announced Terence Blanchard's "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" would open the 2021-22 season next fall.

Blanchard's second opera -- a coming-of-age tale based on the memoir of columnist Charles Blow, which grapples with racism, sexuality and abuse -- will be the first production by a black composer ever staged at the esteemed opera house.