From the Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker profile last month on Peter Gelb, the director of the Metropolitan Opera. He’s the person behind the push to bring high-definition broadcasts of Met productions to movie theaters nationwide. The program started last year and this year expanded to triple the number of original venues. Why do this? Because Gelb beleves in opera as theater, not in the Franco Zeffirelli-era stagings in which a heavily costumed diva stands amid a mise-en-scène stuffed with filigree just to give us her one big aria.

Gelb, who assumed the post of general manager in August, 2006, has sought to define his stewardship of the Met with two words: theatricality and openness. In his view, the Met, while still an institution of great glory, had in recent years become culturally irrelevant. His goal is to maintain its superlative musical values—he has told James Levine, the Met’s musical director, that he would like him to remain in his post for the rest of his life—while reinvigorating its theatrical values, thereby building a broader audience.

Gelb’s emphasis upon opera as theatre rather than as recital was immediately apparent. His first season opened with a stark, stylized “Madama Butterfly,” directed by Anthony Minghella, in which Cio-Cio-San’s son—typically played by a towheaded child—was instead incarnated by a Bunraku puppet. There was also a much praised “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” directed by Bartlett Sher, in which Count Almaviva made his first entrance from among the audience, as if he were a season-ticket holder struck with sudden inspiration, before strutting on a walkway built around the orchestra pit—a sundering of the fourth wall that amounts to daring innovation at the Met.