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Met’s Gelb Took Cut to $1.3 Million; Levine Made $1.5 Million

Peter Gelb
Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb took an 11 percent pay cut in 2009 to $1.3 million. Photographer: Adam Rountree/Bloomberg

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, took an 11 percent pay cut in 2009 to $1.3 million in salary and benefits as the company’s endowment got sliced by the world financial crisis.

James Levine, the Met’s music director, earned $1.5 million, down 5 percent from a year earlier, according to the Met’s 2009-2010 tax return.

Salaries at the Met were cut by 10 percent in December 2008, according to Peter Clark, a spokesman. In the year ending in July 2009, its investments fell by 12 percent, or $40 million, after losing $14 million the year before.

(Due to reporting requirements, Gelb’s pay is for calendar year 2009 while Levine’s is for the year ending in July 2010.)

Chorus master Donald Palumbo’s compensation was $461,617. Among the Met’s top stagehands, master carpenter Stephen Diaz earned $415,377, while assistant head electrician Richard Wagner made $417,548.

Operating revenue at the Met increased by 7 percent to $163.9 million in 2009-2010, led by expanded broadcasts of performances in movie theaters worldwide. Yet the company’s net assets fell 16 percent to $203.6 million, hurt by ballooning pension benefits. Two years earlier, in August 2008, net assets were $380.1 million.

The Met’s 2009-2010 deficit was $1.7 million, Clark said. The company will end with a balanced budget this season, its first since 2003-2004, he added.

Joseph Volpe, the general manager who retired in July 2006 after 42 years with the company, received $432,807 in pension benefits. Advertising agency Serino Coyne received $2.9 million, down from $3.1 million a year earlier.

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