Best rookie overachiever (2008)

Peter Gelb

The Metropolitan Opera may not yet be ready to shake off its reputation as the stodgiest institution in the stodgiest of arts. But in an age of budget cutbacks and declining attendance, freshman general manager Peter Gelb has tapped the Met's considerable resources (it's the world's largest performing-arts organization) to fund a slate of bold new projects he hopes will revitalize the opera house and cultivate new audiences. In fact, the former Sony executive is already changing the landscape of the New York City arts scene. He recruited top-shelf Broadway directors and choreographers to replace the Met's decades-old productions. He turned half the lobby into a gallery for contemporary visual artists. He embarked on a partnership with Lincoln Center Theater to commission new operas and musicals from Wynton Marsalis, Rufus Wainwright, Tony Kushner, Adam Guettel, Rachel Portman, and half a dozen others. Gelb has mapped out his ambitious plans all the way through the 2011–2012 season, with the scheduled premiere of a new Ring Cycle by the Canadian avant-garde director Robert Lepage. Most importantly, while everyone else is raising ticket prices, Gelb slashed the cost of the cheapest tickets from $26 to $15, underselling not just City Opera next door, but also Broadway and Off-Broadway. And he did all of this—and plenty more—before his first official day on the job.


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