Cher Public

Slow curtain

“New York City Opera… will be forced to cancel most of its current season and all of its next season if it fails to raise $20 million by year’s end, company officials say.” [New York Times]

  • parpignol

    a pity, since the 4 productions last year were all rather worth seeing, I thought; and a question: what are the likely financial issues behind suddenly needing 20 million? do each of this year’s productions require 5 million to mount? or has someone suddenly called in an evil old debt?

    • Regina delle fate

      The board that set in motion the events that have led to the appointment of Steel and this debacle should be hounded out of town. Something similar is happening to English National Opera, although it’s nowhere as drastic as ENO still has a home, a chorus and an orchestra, even though it’s essentially a part-time company (thinly spread out over a 9-month season to disguise this fact) in receipt of £20 million taxpayers money a year and with haemmoraging (sp?) audiences. They recently increased prices by up to 30% at a time when the ENO audience democraphic is already feeling the pinch and when ticket prices invariably have to be slashed until good reviews appear, and continue to be slashed when the reviews are bad. I just hope this isn’t the shape of things to come in London. I’m very sad for people who retain affection for NYCO. The first time I went there I saw Sam Ramey as Mefistofele in the production made for Norman Treigle. Can’t remember who else was in it. Enrico di Giuseppe as Faust? Is that possible?

      • 98rsd

        Yes, the Board, or a majority of it screwed up royally, but “hounding them out of town” is asinine. Those people are still very generous donors, and very generous donors aren’t replaced just because you got rid of the old ones.

        • Regina delle fate

          Oh well, sorry for the hyperbole. I was thinking like a subsidized Brit rather than a donor-seeking New Yorker. They don’t seem to have been THAT generous donors if they couldn’t stump up for the Director of their choice, Mortier. It’s all very well having big ideas like that but you have to have the money for them. Mortier has never been a cut-price commodity. But I think I posted that at the time.

  • balabanov11

    for those who don’t know, one of the financial problems the company now faces is that since they sold off their warehouse contents to fund last year’s operating expenses (at an absurdly low price,btw) they literally have no set or costume stock -- every production is a new build. That, along with their ridiculous coddling of designer whims (thousands of dollars of costume and set changes after budgets were approved last season) show how there is no one there who really understands how the budgeting of a major or regional company actually works. This season there is yet another almost complete turnover in artistic and administrative staff -- this is an organization that is in complete freefall, and really needs at this point to be put out of its misery.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      and why should Steeel be permitted to use the name of the real New York City Opera, when it no longer exists? The old ploy of bankruptcy and possible reincorporation seems inevitable. But just as Hammerstein’s Opera is history… so is NYCO.

      • Ethan

        It does seem shocking to read of such high salaries for a company that has been in money trouble for a long time now. I dare say that any of the posters here might have led the outfit for much, much less than Steel was getting. And how much money did they throw away on a Mortier regime that never even began? Who comes up with these ridiculously inflated numbers?

        Nevertheless, I’m sorry to see so many here saying, more or less, “Good riddance.” The New York City Opera really was, once on a time, a significant contributor to the city as a cultural habitat. One poster mentioned attending to see things the Met didn’t put on; it’s easy to forget, now that its repertory is so ambitious, that the big house was once very reticent about straying past the Verdi-Wagner border. But more: in the 1970s, the reconsiderations of standard rep directed by Frank Corsaro turned singers like Pat Brooks and Louis Quilico into Method actors. One of my favorite opera memories is the NYCO Faust--I don’t recall if this was a Corsaro staging--in which the Church Scene found Marguerite not alone but amid a crowd during Mass. When the Devil sang, she appeared so agitated that those around her became anxious, and her following phrases came off as the outburst of someone possessed, disrupting the worship service in a way that only the insane would do. And we should not forget the, uh, dashing figure that Andre Jobin cut in his sleeveless Pelleas tunic.

        • Quanto Painy Fakor

          I can still remember the way Corsaro concluded the scene with Pelleas and Geneviève, but bruning the letter from Marcellus with that single flame in the darkness.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor

            by burning sorry,

    • Mairsydoats

      The board bet on Steel whose entire experience “running” an opera company consisted of 6 disastrous weeks in Dallas. My only comfort in this wreckage is knowing Steely Dim has alienated everyone in the opera world. He, literally, may never work again.

      • Regina delle fate

        That’s not how life at the top works. These people invariably work again, because they are part of a club -- the ruling economic elite. It’s people lower down the rung that pay the price for their incompetence.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    This crappy pitch from NYCO is being circulated by their “well-run, lean, and agile company”:

    “Thank you for your interest in New York City Opera. The Company is excitedly preparing for Anna Nicole at BAM later this month, a bold and celebratory production, which perfectly exemplifies the adventurous opera we have pursued throughout our history.

    However, we need your help: NYC Opera has announced an urgent fundraising appeal. Despite extensive cost cutting and despite the generosity of many donors, the Company needs $7 million by the end of September in order to complete the 2013-2014 Season. Beyond that, we aim to raise an additional $13 million by the end of 2013 towards future seasons.

    Despite overwhelming difficulties, we have accomplished incredible things in recent years, including producing some of the best art we have ever made. We have a well-run, lean, and agile company and wonderful artistic plans; what we need now is the stable funding that will make our work possible.

    I [Steel] am pleased to say that we are trying every avenue and making every effort to ensure that we reach our target. Of that $7 million, $1 million will come from an online Kickstarter campaign lasting through September. This is an unprecedented project that has the potential to reach thousands of opera lovers. I hope you will support it and share it with your friends.

    We need your help to put our season on stage and move confidently forward to a stable future.”

  • Yep, they’re boned. But you can click here for the Superconductor take (and another amusing graphic.)

  • mountmccabe

    “The lack of a permanent home has also confused would-be opera-goers, who scramble between Brooklyn and Manhattan in the course of a “split” season.”

    Is this really all that troublesome? I am thrilled by the idea of Bluebeard’s Castle at St Anne’s Warehouse (for example).

    This is all very strange for me because I have not been in the area long enough to remember NYCO as anything other than a nomadic short-season opera company. I find what it has been over the last few seasons to be quite wonderful and am almost glad that I don’t have the sort of history with the company that makes me scoff at them now.

  • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

    How’s George Steel’s Spanish these days, I wonder?