Gelb will join the company on August 1, 2005, working alongside Volpe for a year before assuming the general manager position when Volpe retires at the end of the 2005-06 season. He will take over artistic planning upon his arrival, making whatever decisions remain about the 2006-07 season.
A onetime Met usher, Gelb worked for legendary impresario Sol Hurok as a teenager. He spent several years as assistant manager of the Boston Symphony before joining Columbia Artist Management Inc., where he produced Met broadcasts and managed the career of Vladimir Horowitz during the pianist's comeback in the 1980s. He moved to Sony when the company bought CAMI's video division in 1993.
"Mr. Gelb brings to the Metropolitan Opera a deep knowledge of classical music wedded to strong managerial talents," said William C. Morris, president and CEO of the Met, in a statement. "We are glad that he will be on board for a year before taking over his full duties, thus assuring an active and smooth transition which is so essential for the Metropolitan's future."
"There is no cultural institution that I respect or love more than the Metropolitan Opera," Gelb said. "I have known or worked with all the general managers of the Met since Rudolf Bing, including Joseph Volpe, whom I greatly admire. These are big shoes to fill and I am thrilled by this challenge."
The New York Times reported last week that Gelb was a finalist for the position, but said that tenor Plšcido Domingo was the most likely pick. The Times also named Los Angeles Philharmonic executive director Deborah Borda and Lesley Koenig, the general manager of San Francisco Ballet, as candidates. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazettle added Pittsburgh Opera director Mark Weinstein and Utah Opera general director Anne Ewers to the list of possibles.
Volpe, the Met's general manager since 1990, was the first person to advance to that position from within the company, having started his career there as an apprentice carpenter in 1964.