US-focused Opera News, to cease publication in November after 87 years

FILE - The Metropolitan Opera house, background center, appears at Lincoln Center in New York on March 12, 2020. Opera News, an 87-year-old publication focused on the Metropolitan Opera and spotlighting the art form in the U.S., will print its final issue in November and be incorporated into Britain-based Opera magazine. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) (Kathy Willens, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Opera News, an 87-year-old publication focused on the Metropolitan Opera and spotlighting the art form in the U.S., will print its final issue in November and be incorporated into Britain-based Opera magazine.

The Met announced Tuesday that the Metropolitan Opera Guild, a separate company formed in 1935 by Eleanor Belmont to aid the opera house, will scale back operations and become a supporting organization of the Met. The opera company will take over the education program that allows about 12,000 school children each year to attend dress rehearsals.

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Opera News has a 43,000 circulation, including 32,000 in print and 11,000 digital. It is distributed to 28,000 Guild members and has an additional 9,000 paid subscribers. After publishing biweekly during the opera season since 1940, Opera News added monthly summer editions in 1972 and switched to a year-round monthly schedule in 2008.

“It really is the result of several years of declining economic fortunes,” Met general manager Peter Gelb said. “What they’re suffering is what many non-profits have been suffering, which is a situation where the earned revenues and donations are not enough to keep up with the expenses.”

Eleanor Belmont, a philanthropist married to financier August Belmont Jr., founded the guild to increase public support for the Met at a time the company's finances were struggling during the Great Depression.

The guild had revenue of $3.2 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, a drop from $4 million in the prior year. That was down from $11.9 million in the year ending June 30, 2019, the last before the coronavirus pandemic.

The Met said 20 Guild employees will get severance packages but the opera company hoped to hire several. Guild board members are being invited to join the Met board. The annual Opera News Awards and luncheon honoring singers will be discontinued.

Opera magazine has 20,000 print subscribers and estimates it has 60,000 readers. It has a four-person editorial office.

John Allison, Opera’s editor, said it had not yet been decided whether to arrange a U.S. printing plant. Rebecca Paller, who has written for Opera, will become its U.S. editor, and Opera will add a focus on Met theater telecasts and radio broadcasts,

“We’ve always covered the American scene in a lot of detail, and here really what we’ll be doing is just I guess you might say upgrading the American coverage,” Allison said. “In that sense, it should be quite seamless.”