General Manager, Metropolitan Opera, New York
Stephen M. Kellen Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2009
Peter Gelb’s career has followed a singular arc that began with his teenage years as an usher at the Metropolitan Opera and led to his appointment in August 2006 as the company’s 16th general manager. After taking the helm at the Met, Gelb right away began to launch initiatives aimed at revitalizing opera and connecting it to a wider audience. A fundamental goal is to recruit increased numbers of the world’s great theater directors to enhance the theatricality of the Met’s productions and complement the extraordinary musical standards established by Music Director James Levine. One of the most successful and trailblazing of his new initiatives is The Met: Live in HD, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series of live performance transmissions shown in high definition in movie theaters. The Met’s HD programs have raised global awareness of opera, inspiring other institutions throughout the world that are in need of revitalization.
Time magazine named Gelb a 2008 honoree of the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people. In 2010, France honored him as an Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2012 he received the Diplomacy Award of the Foreign Policy Association. Most recently in 2013, he received the Sanford Prize from the Yale School of Music and was named Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by the French President.
Among Gelb’s Emmy Award-winning films are Soldiers of Music: Rostropovich Returns to Russia (1991) and Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic (1985). Gelb received Peabody Awards for his television series “Marsalis on Music” (1995) and for his concert film “Horowitz in Moscow” (1986) as well as for the Met’s Live in HD series. Three of the Met’s Live in HD productions released on DVD—John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, Wagner’s Ring cycle, and Thomas Adès’s The Tempest—won consecutive Grammys for best opera recording for the company and for Gelb as executive producer between 2011 and 2013. He also received the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award for the Live in HD series in 2011.