The Metropolitan Opera announced Wednesday that it will be closed until fall 2021 due to the continuing threat of COVID-19.
The Met had previously hoped to restart its season on Dec. 31, 2020, but now says it has been advised by its health officials to wait until the fall, or a time at which “a vaccine is widely in use, herd immunity is established, and the wearing of masks and social distancing is no longer a medical requirement,” according to a press release. As both the Met and Broadway theaters face similar obstacles in resuming operations, the announcement puts the reopening timeline of the industry and other live, indoor entertainment into question.
The Broadway League said Wednesday that it had no comment on whether this announcement will impact the industry’s reopening date. Lincoln Center Theater, which is is on the same campus as the Met, is not affected by the Met’s decision, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
As it stands, Broadway shows are officially closed through at least Jan. 3. The industry-wide shutdown was announced the evening of March 12, a few hours after the closure of the Met.
Broadway industry leaders had been eyeing a restart in the spring, under the premise that some productions may be able to begin rehearsals in early 2021. That premise, however, relies on low coronavirus case numbers and the availability of a treatment or vaccine for the disease.
Like the Met, the Broadway industry has said it cannot operate with social distancing in the theaters due to the financial constraints of having a reduced audience.
Health officials have advised the Met that it will likely take five or six months after a vaccine becomes available to meet the needed safety conditions for reopening, according to the press release. To be sure, productions at the Met are often much larger than Broadway shows due to the size of the chorus and number of orchestra members.
The Met is planning to resume with a full slate of productions, beginning with Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” on Sept. 27, 2021. In order to accommodate a more “cautious” audience, the Met plans to move some its curtain times earlier and reduce running times on several operas.
Additionally, Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met, noted that costs will have to be cut — a move that, when suggested on Broadway, has been met with opposition from the unions.
“The inability to perform is taking a tremendous toll on our company,” Gelb said. “Our future relies on making strong artistic strides, while collectively reducing our costs until the audience has fully returned.”