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.