Saturday, November 08, 2008

Operatic Bailout—Someone, anyone?

"The opera always loses money. That's as it should be.
Opera has no business making money."
---Rudolph Bing

The appointment of Gerard Mortier as general manager and artistic director of the New York City Opera was a visionary move on the part of the company's board of trustees. It distinguished the company from their deluxe neighbor across campus and spiced up the opera world in the process. With the New York Times report today that Mortier will leave—before his first season, before even the renovations to the hall are completed—this is the company's second major self-definition misfire.

First they strongly and convincingly made the case that the New York State Theater was inhospitable for singers, but then had to announce they were unable to move to a new home. Now they've defined themselves as the cutting edge opera company in America, but in the current economic climate, they cannot afford to realize these plans. Unfortunately, they also announced that their old model is "financially broken."

This is a pickle they're in. It's terribly distressing to see this institution with so much history and accumulated talent faltering so. Are there angels enough to get the New York City Opera back on its feet? Is there a leader intrepid enough to give the company direction and vision while working within a budget crisis? I hope so.

3 comments:

Kimbery said...

That is so sad, and the saddest part of course, is that no matter the amount of talent - money is the bottom line.

American Symphony Orchestra said...

AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Leon Botstein, Music Director

AGAINST THE AVANT-GARDE: ROMANTICISMS OF THE 1920s

Three composers unwilling to compromise Romantic tradition for modernist trends.
THREE LONG-OVERDUE AMERICAN PREMIERES.

Featuring DANIEL HOPE, violin

Sunday, 7 December at 3PM
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center

FOR TICKETS CALL : 212.868.9ASO
or VISIT WWW.AMERICANSYMPHONY.ORG

Join Maestro Leon Botstein 75 minutes prior to performance for an illuminating pre-concert discussion. Located at the Avery Fisher Hall Mainstage.

Lisa Hunter said...

For a while, they were making a great case for themselves as the opera company that wasn't about elitism or wearing diamonds. In the late 80s they had a great populist slogan, "Come as you are, and leave the elaborate costumes to us." I wish they'd stayed more in that direction, rather than trying to brand themselves as more intellectual than the Met. It's hard to pay the electric bill when 90 percent of the opera-going audience (not to mention the general public) feels intimidated by your programming, no matter how worthy it is.