What a class act is Ann Ziff. She just gave the Metropolitan Opera $30m. Not a pledge, not a fancy members lounge or a lobby with her name on it, not a half-dozen new productions of her favorite operas, but an unrestricted gift of money (she also sprang for a whole new Ring), the most valuable kind of gift and the hardest to get. In general, I’d prefer art money were spread around geographically and less piled on a few top-rank institutions in New York, but the Met has been putting opera out there in creative ways, especially including their live big-screen feeds to theaters all over the world that have tripled their paying audience. No, opera on a big movie screen, even live, isn’t the same as a live performance you attend in person, but it’s opera and people are seeing it who don’t live where there’s a live opera company, let alone one with as many productions as the Met.
There’s more: Ziff doesn’t like everything that goes on the boards, and that’s OK: “Whether I like a new production or not, I don’t feel is important,” she said. “To get these new audiences, we need to try new things.” I love Ann Ziff, philanthropy done right. Bravissima!