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Century of progress?

20th Century LimitedNew York City Opera has announced its 2010-2011 season, and it looks like La Cieca’s precognitions were about 90% correct. (Please, hold your applause.)

According to the company’s press release, the season (beginning October 28) features mostly 20th century works, including

New York premieres, in new productions, of Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place and Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon; a daring triple bill of Monodramas (including the US stage premiere of “Neither” by Morton Feldman and Samuel Beckett, and the world stage premiere of John Zorn’s “La Machine de l’être”, performed with Schoenberg’s “Erwartung”); and the return of Strauss’s Intermezzo and Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love

What apparently began life as a revival of the company’s venerable Turandot has evolved into “An Evening with Christine Brewer” season opening gala.

Gushes NYCO GM/AD George Steel, “Most of all, I love the incredible range of compositional styles this season: from the transparent simplicity of Donizetti to the opulent middle-period Richard Strauss to the blend of the popular and classical worlds in Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz—all this topped off by the delicious trio of Schoenberg, Feldman and Zorn. This is what City Opera was made to do, and what makes City Opera unique.”

49 comments

  • Baritenor says:

    David Lomeli, who is singing Nemorino, is currently an Adler Fellow in San Francisco. And he is awesome. Enjoy.

  • Harry says:

    In many countries there is at least the traditional main opera company and there is usually the opposite number a company that is a counterpoint. A place for more ‘chamber sized works’ where the intimacy they need can gain full imapct for all audiences members. A big company needs big theatres to get the big returns to PAY the big overheads.

    I cannot imagine things (I.E) like Britten’s Turn of the Screw or Poulenc;s Le Voix Humaine ‘working in an 3800 seat cavernous space’. They would be lost. Like trying to stretching a film from 4/3 full screen ratio -out into some silly IMAX 3-D travesty. For NYCO to go head to head with the MET is lunacy. Leave the MET to its own devices. Always, there is a market for alternative fare. The motto ‘do what you can do better than your opposition’. It does not have to be a hostile stance but one in the best situation, of both forces complimenting each other in their own way. Could one imagine the MET with its big logistics ad demands considering this type of NYCO programming. NO!

    Smaller operas HAVE A RIGHT TO BE CONSIDERED AND PRESENTED before a public, and not shot down in flames ….just because ‘they are not big enough (to attract 3800 people!)
    I have seen a lovely performance of Copland’s The Tender Land done in a hall of 250 -300 people….in a performance that shamed the standards of a National Company! It included singers that have appeared in Vienna and SF. Done out of sheer love!

    Familiar with Bernstein’s A Quiet Place (since its premiere in Austria -the following DG recording leading from it), why the ‘fright’ as expressed here by some. It is accessible. The rest of the NYCO future programming is not what I would call ‘insane and far out’. Strauss’ Intermezzo??? I cannot see eeither opera as ‘a deathwish’ as sterlingkay called it, at (20.1). Jeepers, just have a look at other countries and see the wild programming some of them ,commit to. The detactors would be grateful and give NYCO at the very least a give go at being a success.
    What could the precious Gerard Mortier have added, to make NYCO a resounding success? Success mainly for himself maybe, with a extra big fat fee perhaps.
    The MET has had enough flops and crisis changes of casting lately, now at least give NYCO the benefit of the doubt under the new regime to at least make a couple themseves…….then contributors here, may have a perfect right to scream, not before.

  • Henry Holland says:

    What could the precious Gerard Mortier have added, to make NYCO a resounding success? Success mainly for himself maybe, with a extra big fat fee perhaps

    Vision, access to better singers, designers and directors than the NYCO currently has, a willingness to experiment, controversy etc. He left because he was lied to about the money he asked for upfront being available. If he’d had that money, his first season would be almost done.

    • Harry says:

      (He, Mortier) “He left because he was lied to about the money he asked for upfront being available. If he’d had that money, his first season would be almost done.” said Henry Holland.

      Might I further add : yes, probably Mortier’s first season would have been almost done, but not in the manner H.H may wish to assume.
      More like NYCO being ‘done like a dinner’ A.K.A ‘Fucked and financially finished’.
      And leaving the smoking ruins in such a case behind, what would we see….?. All those operatic anarchists that pervade some areas of Opera exclaiming “Regie for regie’s sake!”. Ask where they would be then heading? Probably swaning off to create some ‘conceptualised high performance art happening’ of which they are still vague about for some misguided Arts Festival, and a fat fee. Employed by bigger idiots so gullible, who do not see such others’ far greater refined skill ‘at self promoting their own bull shit’. Oh! the names that quickly come into one’s head! When they should really be employed in shopping plaza complexes at the level of putting on kiddie-face painting shows or pop rock family entertainment for the passing trogs shopping.

  • Harry says:

    “Vision, access to better singers, designers and directors than the NYCO currently has, a willingness to experiment, controversy etc ” (Henry Holland)

    Why exactly would someone have better access….?
    Singer go according to where a opportunity is,and someone is paying the fee they have set.. Perhaps the size of a fee equates with ‘access’ better quality to Henry Holland. But whether that singer ‘then delivers’ is another matter. We know that, the World over. As for so called ‘vision’ in the case as discussed here with Mortier, that was and remains an unquantifiable intangible. A biased ‘what might have’ point made to support what then becomes an emtpy argument.

    As for putting forward words like “to experiment, controversy etc” as virtuous and pretentious words for praising how Mortier has ‘vision’ , is contradictory. If he had a clear and definite ‘vision’ there would be no need of your term for ‘experimenting’. And as for perhaps deliberating seeking also ‘controversy’: that is the lame duck excuse always trotted out by artistic dickheads and pretenders. When has ‘controversy’ in itself, become the sure fire box office seller of any production? It may be a by -product, accidential or otherwise: (but in your words) for a Mortier to deliberately seek it, as you suggested he would……is beyond belief. That is, for something to be produced -- that wishes to divide opinion and then detract from the potential box offices takings. And you are touting Mortier would be ‘successful’ for that!! I prefer those people that seeks all round crowd pleasers. And that does not have to denote ‘playing to the lower levels of audience awareness’ either.

  • Henry Holland says:

    All those operatic anarchists that pervade some areas of Opera exclaiming “Regie for regie’s sake!”

    What does that have to do with Mortier? He planned to do Death in Venice in the ENO production. I saw it at the Coliseum and a) it was totally not regie theatre and b) it’s easily one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen on stage, though admittedly that had something to do with the incredible choral singing and the choreography for Tadzio and his friends.

    The St. Francis di Assisi was going to be done at the Park Avenue Armory, like the incredible production of Die Soldaten was, and it wasn’t going to be , it was a production from the Ruhrtriennale. A couple of the other productions were going to be borrowed, and they weren’t regie! regie! regie! either.

    So, as usual, what the hell are you talking about?

    A biased ‘what might have’ point made to support what then becomes an emtpy argument

    You mean, like the hysterical (as in: demented) ravings of our doyenne and others at the prospect of Mortier taking over a dead, nobody-gives-a-fuck opera company and by openly rejecting most of the Italian rep except as a way to make money, differentiating itself from the mausoleum across the plaza? I wish I had saved the post of this one person who seemed on the verge of tears that there wasn’t going to be any Verdi on the schedule and how could a company live without Verdi and….then it was pointed out that this was only the first season, it would be business as usual after that, a mixed repertory of stuff from Monteverdi to Birtwistle and STILL people whined that they couldn’t get their fix of dreary Donizetti stuff because he was doing all that awful 20th century stuff. One effing season of something different and people were birthin’ kittens, it was unreal.

    If he had a clear and definite ‘vision’ there would be no need of your term for ‘experimenting’

    God, you’re as dense as a neutron star. A vision can’t encompass experimentation? Wow.

    • Henry Holland says:

      Sorry about that, my HTML skills need some polishing obviously.

      • No Expert says:

        “God, you’re as dense as a neutron star. A vision can’t encompass experimentation? Wow!”

        Isn’t that the deleted mad scene from Eighth Wonder?
        If not, it should be!

  • kashania says:

    I think that NYCO should be carving out an alternate repertoire than what is being presented at the Met. Now, they may have gone a bit overboard but we’ll see.

  • Harry says:

    Henry Holland : You scream that ‘vision’ can accomodate experimentation’? No I suspect , given the situation NYCO faces at this present time. What ‘vision’ are we talking about? Is it just choice of programming or what could be called unorthodox presentation of what is programmed?

    In my book ‘experimentation’ is a word used to suggest researching to find answers. Any director ‘worth his/her salt’ already has their ‘vision’ intact, in their head, prior to the start of rehearsals.
    Are you suggesting that NYCO is a place for what amounts to ‘workshopping’? Rehearsals COST MONEY. Ever heard of performers disheartened and un-nerved by directors changing course during rehearals when they sense ‘directors frigging around’: who then blame performers when their ratty ideas hit a brick wall?
    A company getting back on its financial feet needs careful nuture -- uneventul smooth teamwork from all involved. Bringing in some ‘big name director with their naturally impatient ambitions to make a quick mark’ is not always in the best overall interests of a NYCO or similiar organization, in the position it finds itself in.

    No Expert: I suggest you have given yourself a apt name. Your convoluted comment about ‘The Eighth Wonder’ does not haze me in the least. Yes I happen to have seen that bomb of an opera….’just another quickly forgotten bumped out show’ created by self indulged cretins, many years ago. I now suggest you now get ready for the premiere of ‘Bliss’ the next serve of pseudo new wave ‘opera shite’ from Opera Australia.
    Based upon a boring book for the literary chattering classes by Peter Carey.