Cher Public

NYCO 2012-2013 season announcement

Question time for George Steel has now completed.

Q: Season looks like a festival, all new productions of novelties. What is going to happen to standard repertoire? A: In a four opera season, it’s hard to have an exemplar of every opera style. Alden Nozze will follow season after this one, it’s standard. Each season is a rule unto itself.

Q: where do you see the company in five years? Steel: the right size for the company is 8-10 productions a year, number of performances of each depends on the market.

A “free agent” asks, what is the status of the partnership with Shakespeare in the Park? Steel: not happening this year, but the project is still alive.

Paul Pelkonen: what is timetable for expansion of season? Steel: sustainability is the point; expansion will follow.

Anthony Tommasini notes that a ballpark percentage of operating costs for most performing organizations cover about 40 – 60% of costs. Does Steel think that NYCO’s earned revenues are too low? Steel: Every opera ticket is subsidized; what matters is not what percentage is covered by ticket sales but is the public being served, and is the budget balanced? He says NYCO is doing both?

Fred Plotkin, in a follow up question about “standards” asks: must your stage directors be able to read music? must they be able to speak the language of the libretto? GS says, that’s not the standard for choosing the director; we don’t administer quizzes.

Bruce Michael Gelbart asks, will repertory productions and last season’s new productions be revived, ever? GS: Our goals right now are mostly new productions; old productions, of which a handful GS calls “stageworthy” might possibly be revived. He says the Sendak Vixen, e.g., could no longer take the stage.

Steel ends by saying the budget is balanced and the company is on a sound financial footing. In response to a question from AP’s Ronald Blum, GS says that the operating budget for this season was about $15 million.

Our old friend Chris Alden will direct La Perichole, a piece GS describes as being “about an 18th century Yma Sumac.” Anne Baxter and Yma Sumac within the course of five mintues, and yet he is straight, go figure.

 Mose in Egitto begins during the plague of darkness. GS makes a joke about “tbe Anne Baxter role.” Michael Counts will direct the Rossini. This will run the week after Passover, go figure.

Jay Scheib will direct Powder Her Face; Sam Buntrock (Sunday in the Park with George) will stage Turn of the Screw.

NYCO has cemented three-year deal with BAM Opera House and “gloriously renovated” City Center.

Season will be “what NYCO does best, new productions of rarely heard gems paired with cutting-edge directors.” Steel is introduced.

The room comes to a hush.  George Steel in a dark suit; Chuck Wall in grey flannel. He leads off, speaking of “unique challenges” of recent seasons, salutes the company’s “turnaround” thanks to GS, “who is fully supported by the board of New York City Opera.”  He quips he wants to see The Student Prince.

11:00 AM: The NYCO season for 2012-2013 will feature four new productions: Ades’ Powder Her Face and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (at BAM February 13-March 2), followed by Rossini’s Mose in Egitto and Offenbach’s La Perichole, with the company returning to its LaGuardia- era roots at City Center April 14-27).

10:55 AM: This is your sob sister of the lyric stage, La Cieca, reporting live from the lovely Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room of the New York Public Library, where any minute now the New York City Opera will unveil its 2012-2013 season.

Photo: Carol Rosegg.

  • Clita del Toro

    Will Dessay sing tonight???

    • Camille

      The $64,000 Question, o Clitissimo.

      My ears still bleed and I lost a night’s sleep over the stress I experienced last Saturday.

      Let’s hope Hong has got that red dress pressed and ready to fly.

      • Clita del Toro

        LOL Cammy--you are keeping me in stitches.

        • Camille

          My objective, my dearest darling Clita!

          I am convinced that the Peppy Miller character in “The Artist” is based on or an hommage to Your Joan. Wonderful actress, Mlle. Bejo!

          • Clita del Toro

            She’s your Joan too.

    • Clita del Toro

      I just got home and in time to hear Dessay’s Addio del passato--it was excellent and moving. According to someone on opera-l, Dessay is back in form and hit abrilliant Eb. Anyone hear it?

      • bluecabochon

        Yes, and everyone was in much better form than on Saturday. It was also a really nice small group of chatters. :)

        • Batty Masetto

          I’m so glad to hear it. Not having La Cieca’s medical background, I wouldn’t dare any opinion on whether Dessay has a recurrence of nodes or not, still less whether there’s been a formal diagnosis. But after witnessing her obvious unhappiness at the intermission and even more at the curtain call on Saturday, compared to her usual offstage exuberance, it’s not credible to me that she expected to put in a bad performance then. And since we’ve already been doing mind-reading here, I’m going to venture a more charitable (and I believe more realistic) scenario for her line of thinking about Saturday:

          “1. It’s a given that this whole production relies on somebody with magnetism. The HD is heavily sold. People like Batty Masetto paid to see me do it and might well not have bought tickets to see HKH, even if she’s vocally superior. [She would have been right on all counts. – ed. note.]

          “2. I really think I have something important to say in this role and really want to do this; I’ve already had some success in the role in other productions and continue to learn how to manage it; last Tuesday was rough but the response was positive and with luck and care, today will be better; there could be some difficult moments, but I think I can still give people value for their money. [Once again, judging from a number of comments here, at least some people would agree, including Batty and his dear Hubby. – ed. note.]

          “3. The aftermath of this cold is an absolute bastard. But [and now Batty invokes an imaginary doctor of his own] Dr. Grenvil says I can probably manage.

          “4. Therefore: I’ll do it.”

          It sounds like this evening’s performance bears me out, at least to some degree. I’m sorry I had to miss it.

  • jim

    It’s a reassuring announcement. It’s all about stability: they’ve three year venue agreements, Alden’s Nozze will be coming next year. They’ve recovered from the disaster.

    Neither Perichole nor Turn of the Screw are rarities. But I haven’t seen Perichole in this country. The last time I saw it was Savary’s version at the Opera-Comique complete with trademark interpolated can-can and M. Offenbach himself wandering onstage. Alden’s version has to be better.

    The Ades and Rossini are genuine rarities, even if they’ve recently been done in Philly and Chicago. I don’t care for obscure Rossini (tell the truth, I don’t care for well-known Rossini, either), but good operas by contemporary composers ought to be performed as often as possible.

    • ianw2

      Perichole, in the spirit of being pedantic, is very much a rarity in the Anglosphere. Far more so than Powder Her Face, which is enjoying something of a Post-Tempest Boom.

      • armerjacquino

        I think there will be more and more productions of Powder Her Face over the next few years: one set, small band, four singers.

    • whatever

      > neither Perichole … are rarities.

      My Aunt Fanny it isn’t. Reasonable people can disagree about the Britten (or even about what constitutes a rarity), but the Met hasnt done Perichole since 1971, and while Operabase lists about a dozen productions scheduled between 2010 and [the end of time], they’re all at European houses.

      given everything i can glean on the interwebs wrt recent performance histories i don’t see how the rossini qualifies as a rarity but the offenbach doesn’t … at least in North America.

  • Porpora

    Tp bad there wasn’t a followup question to Plotkin’s question, that is, what is the standard for choosing a director? It sounds like dramaturgy isn’t -- and never will be- Mr. Steel’s strong suit. And what is this business about the percentage of ticket sales not being important? Ok, so Steel has a funder with a big wallet. What happens when that funding disappears? You know, Steel has gone on record as saying that he puts operas on for donors. His response to Tomassini only confirms this, which flies in the face of industry standards and practice. Can he get away with it? Well…he is getting away with it, isn’t he? For now anyway. I for one, would like to see a better managed NYCO rather than a 1 precent company masquerading as a 99 percent one.

    • Nerva Nelli

      “what is the standard for choosing a director?”

      For the announced season, clearly, women need not apply.

  • cosmodimontevergine

    Fred Plotkin’s question isn’t really relevant -very few opera directors can actually “read” scores. Many can follow them but not all. Several of the most musical of opera directors never consult a score at all -they know the music from listening.

    • ianw2

      To Steel’s credit, his answer to that silly question was pretty spot-on.

    • Porpora

      Oh, we’re supposed to believe that this makes for great opera because directors don’t have a clue as to what is in the score? You’re defending mediocrity, lack of education and a real understanding of opera, it’s history and traditions? Yes. That’s what you’re doing.

      • ianw2

        No, that’s not at all what I’m doing.

        I don’t think the ability to score read or read the libretto in the original language automatically means you’re going to have a competent director. Being able to read music or speak German doesn’t automatically mean one’s ideas are going to be any good.

        I can’t, off-hand, think of any good opera directors who can’t at least read music at a functional level but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any (if the ability to score-read and speak comprehensive Italian, French, German, Russian, English and, increasingly, Czech, disqualifies opinion, we may as well close down Parterre today).

        Not being able to read the score doesn’t mean that the director is going to turn up to the first rehearsal having only flicked through the CD booklet. There are other ways to absorb a piece of music, particularly with a good music director/conductor and the easy, inexpensive availability of recordings (and with repertory pieces, dozens of recordings both on CD and DVD to compare and study).

        But, sure, I’m here only trash opera. I’m desecrating the temple AS WE SPEAK.

      • armerjacquino

        I have a friend who could sing you all three Mozart/ Da Ponte operas from start to finish, recits and all, without even having to think about it; and yet she doesn’t read music.

        Of course it’s preferable if a director can read the score, but it by no means follows that if they can’t, they ‘lack a real understanding of opera, its (note: no apostrophe) and traditions’. Since when did being able to read a score equate to a knowledge of history anyway?

    • Porpora

      What’s next? That singer’s shouldn’t know the meaning of the words because the visuals are oh so fabulous and exciting? I mean really: why understand anything at all at this point when anything and any viewpoint (or lack thereof) will do? You betray your ignorance sir.

      • The Wistful Pelleastrian


        What’s next? That singer’s shouldn’t know the meaning of the words because the visuals are oh so fabulous and exciting?


        Neither the meaning of the words nor the visuals are important at the end of the day

        Ultimate aesthetic value resides solely in the pure sound (form, line and shape)

      • brooklynpunk


        Could it be.. possibily..just a tiny bit.. that you’re angry that NYCO has beaten the odds ( well, so far..) and is STILL around to announce an up-coming season (With or without a Director who can read a score)??


        • ianw2

          Actually I think Propora is more about administering an entry exam to anyone who would like to cross the threshold into the Temple.

          “You are being considered to direct our new production of Barbiere. In 19th century Italian, please explain the role of Rossini in the development of opera, demonstrating an understanding of the bel canto tradition, drawing on particular examples in the urtext. Demonstrate how your ability to read both 19th century Italian and the orchestral score will inform your production and validate your ideas. Show your work.”

          • brooklynpunk

            Bartlett Sher passed that exam with flying colors, no??—just bring out an ..ANVIL… that says it all..!!


          • ianw2

            Yes, being able to read the score sure made Comte Ory a bona fide hit.

  • whatever

    hey — so when is Gotham Chamber Opera announcing its new season?!?

  • efrayer
  • efrayer

    For your reading pleasure: Met Episodes: The Queen and I. From an opera blue blood in the know. I’m sure many of you can relate.

  • EA3
  • zinka

    Should I name only a few stars at City Opera???How sad it is gone…

    Ramey,Galvany,Di Giuseppe, Neblett,Soviero,Meier, Molese, Welting,Rolandi,Stapp………and on and on……

    • brooklynpunk


      It’s NOT “GONE” at all… that’s the whole reason for this thread in the first place…!

      Let’s hope that the coming season(s) give us some new and performing names , which might become legends, after a while--no?

  • Bianca Castafiore

    I’d go to the Mose, hope they can get Rebeka!!!! She was fantabulous in the recent Moise at CH.

  • Regarding new seasons, today La Scala has announced its 2012-13 season
    Pops’ lovers will be delighted to see she is singing Gutrune and dritte Norn in Gotterdammerung.

    • oedipe

      A Verdi-Wagner season. Artists from the Russian Federation are heavily represented.