“I don’t know the facts of the situation involving the Met,” the noted First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said in an email, “but as a general matter the Met has no legal right to control what is said about it unless the material published is libelous or written in a way to suggest falsely that the Met itself is the author. Material in the public domain may freely be described so long as the copyright laws are adhered to and non-defamatory material from sources may be published whether or not it was confirmed.”
Hopefully Mr. Wilber will reconsider his decision and put his list back online. But even if he doesn’t, I spoke with other bloggers who expressed interest in hosting a similar feature. It would be deeply unfortunate if the Met attempted to pursue such a weak case against any of these people, who would almost certainly lack the company’s legal and financial resources. The fact that the company cannot seem to control leaks of information, to Mr. Wilber and others, is not the bloggers’ problem. It’s the Met’s.
The attempt to silence Mr. Wilber is comical, particularly since the Met Futures list pointed to a healthy artistic future, studded with new operas, expansions of the repertory, and exciting directors like Dmitri Tcherniakov. It seems like the company should have other priorities than intimidating a fan whose work provides a resource for other fans—a site that, at the end of the day, just increases excitement about the Met’s offerings.
With a music director whose health problems make his every appearance a crapshoot, a folly of a Ring production whose massive set cost millions and tends to break down, and a marked lack of success developing homegrown productions, is this really what the Met is choosing to spend its time on?
Well, at least there is the 2016-17 season to look forward to; according to Mr. Wilber’s last update, it will feature a new production of Verdi’s Otello starring Aleksandrs Antonenko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky and a revival of Rossini’s Armida with Diana Damrau.
“If the departure of the Met Futures list leaves you missing it,” he said in the farewell post on his site, “I’m sorry about that. I will really miss it too, you can be sure. But I plan to continue offering the Met all my usual forms of support — attending performances in the house, going to the cinema for live-in-HD presentations, listening via radio, etc. I hope you’ll do the same.”