Arts Groups Bet Big on Holiday Programming. Will Children Come? – The New York Times

December 21, 2021 by No Comments

“I haven’t been to the Met in years,” Mattea Volpe, who is 10 years old, recalled bemoaning on her ride to the opera house. “I was exaggerating, but then I was like, ‘Wait, I actually haven’t!’”

No children had.

When she took her red velvet seat last week, Mattea became one of the first children under 12 allowed back inside the Metropolitan Opera House since the Covid-19 pandemic forced it to close in March 2020. When the Met reopened this September, its strict vaccine mandate kept young children away, since they were not yet eligible for shots. Now they are, and fully vaccinated children are being welcomed back — not a moment too soon for a company that had decided to bet heavily on child-friendly operas this holiday season.

The Met, whose family holiday presentations have grown in popularity in recent years, is presenting two this season. To build on the success of its popular abridged English-language version of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” it is mounting a new offering: “Cinderella,” a 90-minute English adaptation of Massenet’s “Cendrillon.” At the final dress rehearsal, Met employees could invite their fully vaccinated children. Mattea, whose mother plays violin in the orchestra, whose father is the Met’s head electrician and whose grandfather Joseph Volpe ran the company for years, was among them.

“I wouldn’t say we lucked out,” Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, said of the new vaccine eligibility that allowed a big part of his target audience back into the opera house in the nick of time. “But I would say we were very fortunate.”

The milestone comes at an uncertain moment in the course of the pandemic. A surge in cases and the spread of the Omicron variant has led to the cancellations of performances of some Broadway shows after cast and crew members tested positive for the virus, and led to the cancellation of one of the city’s most popular family offerings, the “Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes,” more than a week before Christmas.

Children are a key part of the audience many New York City arts organizations court over the holidays. “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” is one of New York City Ballet’s biggest draws each year. Broadway beckons families from out of town. Museums try to draw children who are off from school, as with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Walt Disney exhibition. This year, many institutions are trying to navigate the …….



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