opera

The Metropolitan Opera's new act

January 11, 2012: 5:00 AM ET
The Met's stage crew prepares for a production of Charles Gounod's Faust. Photograph taken from backstage looking out at the orchestra pit and auditorium.

The Met's stage crew prepares for a production of Charles Gounod's Faust. Photograph taken from backstage looking out at the orchestra pit and auditorium.

FORTUNE -- When Peter Gelb, who had been an executive at Sony Classical records, took over in 2006 as general manager of New York's Metropolitan Opera, attendance was fading and the average age of ticket holders rising. Gelb brought in Broadway and West End directors, took chances on innovative, edgy works, and started beaming operas around the world in HD movie theaters. The result: a younger, broader audience and a record year financially for the world's biggest opera. --Shelley DuBois

By the numbers

57.7: The average age of audience members at performances in 2010, down from 60.4 in 2005, according to the Met.

$182 million: That's what the Met raised last fiscal year -- up 50% from the previous period. Board chair Ann Ziff and her family, heirs to the Ziff Davis publishing fortune, pledged $30 million.

1,700: The number of venues in 54 countries that will screen Met operas in HD this year. Some 8.5 million tickets have been sold so far. Last year HD produced $11 million in profits for the Met.

Source: Metropolitan Opera

This article is from the January 16, 2012 issue of Fortune.

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