Marvin Suchoff remembers his first live opera well. He should–it was only 18 months ago. Suchoff went to see The Barber of Seville just before he was scheduled to interview for the job of CFO of the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York–a job he would land and still holds today.

Words like "repertoire" now come easily to Suchoff, whose only vocal music experience was a couple of obligatory years singing in the temple choir near his upstate New York childhood home. What doesn't come easy for a CFO of a lavish and expensive artistic endeavor like the Met is solvency–especially since the 9/11 terrorist tragedies. The Met lives off income earned from ticket sales, which must account for 64% of its budget–$193.1 million in 2004. Revenue from ticket sales dropped off after those attacks crippled New York and has yet to recover. Before 9/11, the Met could count on selling at least 90% of its seats. Post 9/11, that floor is just 80%, and it shows no solid signs of improving, according to Suchoff. "We're learning to cut back and live on less, trying to weather the storm," he says.


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