Last month, according to the Times, tenor Eric Cutler, the winner of the 2005 Richard Tucker Award, did not appear at the gala because of an exclusivity clause in all of the Met's contracts. Other singers were also prevented from singing, said Barry Tucker, the son of Richard Tucker and president of the foundation.
The dispute is made more bitter by the fact that Richard Tucker was a leading tenor at the Met for decades. "I grew up in that place," said Barry Tucker.
Barry Tucker told the Times that Joseph Volpe, the Met's general manager, instituted a ban on Met singers appearing at the Tucker gala three years ago. In response, he said, the foundation stopped making an annual donation to the Met.
Volpe disputed that version of events, telling the Times that the exclusivity clause was a longstanding Met policy and that the Tucker gala had been exempted in the past because of its annual donations. The exemption was ended only because the foundation stopped making donations, Volpe said.
Tucker and Volpe also disagreed over the future of the policy. Tucker told the paper that he had met with incoming general director Peter Gelb and that Gelb had "cleared the artists" for the 2007 gala. But Volpe said that he and Gelb were in agreement over the policy, although he added that Gelb would "keep his options open." Gelb declined to comment.