There's no bright light at the end of the tunnel for New York's Metropolitan Opera, which announced on Wednesday its decision to cancel its 2020–21 season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"We want nothing more than to get back to the business of creating operatic magic for you, but the safety of our company and of you, the loyal audience we serve, must come first," said Met Opera general manager Peter Gelb in a video announcement.
The opera went dark in mid-March, after its last live performance on March 11, and has since lost $150 million in revenue. And while the company had hoped to reopen in time for a New Year's Eve gala, the lack of a COVID-19 vaccine has eliminated that plan.
"Because of the many hundreds of performers who are required to rehearse and perform in close quarters and because of the company's large audience, it was determined that it would not be safe for the Met to resume 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," wrote the Met Opera in its announcement. "Health officials have said this will likely take at least five to six months after a vaccine is initially made available."
The closure puts the 1,000 employees of the Met Opera in financial jeopardy—they have been furloughed without pay since April. And it also signals a gloomy future for other performing arts organizations in New York, which have also canceled all performances since March. The state's governor Andrew Cuomo has not announced when performing arts venues might be able to reopen, and given the Met's announcement, it seems like that time might not come for months.
Until the Met reopens in September 2021—pending a vaccine—opera fans can tune into nightly streams of past performances, as well as the digital-only "Met Stars Live in Concert" series.