“Opera America, a service organization for opera companies, has expressed interest in purchasing City Opera’s thrift shop…” [Wall Street Journal]
Damn. This was supposed to be on the modern-music-has-no-tunes canard thread.
Yes, we need another Duane Reade!
It would be a great place for people in the business to bring items they want to sell, but it should be combination thrift and consignment store for OperaAmerica, that way even more interesting items not connected with X-CityOpera might turn up there.
“In City Opera’s case, financial documents indicate an astonishing lack of financial discipline leading up to the opera’s 2008 request to invade the endowment, a period when the board’s chairwoman was Susan L. Baker and the general and artistic director was Paul Kellogg.” [New York Times]
Does this article address the budget deficits that caused the “raid” of endownment funds? It’s very convenient to cite conventional wisdom about trying to sell out of stocks and repurchase them when things got “better,” but 2009 was the year even further lows were reached in the first quarter, lows that were that much more terrifying (for investors) than the drop caused by deleveraging after Lehmann’s death. Recovery of stock prices took years; once again, this has nothing to do with the fact that the NYCO chose to pay its bills at the time rather than declare bankruptcy then.
The article seems to skirt the issue of board-responsibility for every aspect of management, but 2008-9 was an extraordinary time for most nonprofits. The difference, in my view, was that the NYCO had been in a deficit spiral for a long, long time--and it was this, allied with artistic and repertoire choices that did not appeal sufficiently either to the subscriber base or the donor base, that sealed its fate. Every artistic institution is buoyed, ultimately, by its ability to continue to raise money and keep its nose clean in its public profile. The NYCO failed to do this and that is a much greater disaster than merely having to eat its seed corn. Again, in my view, having to do that is not the fatal problem but merely a desperate reaction to other, greater failures.
“an astonishing lack of financial discipline … when the board’s chairwoman was Susan L. Baker and the general and artistic director was Paul Kellogg.”
About time that observation appeared in The Paper Of Record.
What a dreadful situation! An Associated Press article dated 27 Feburary 2007 that chronicled the demise of City Opera, states “Gerard Mortier, director of the Paris Opera, is hired as City Opera’s general manager and artistic director starting with the 2009-10 season and given a contract through the 2014-15 season. Mortier says City Opera will remain at Lincoln Center and he plans all 20th-century works for his first season.”
But they didn’t the fact that Mortier also promised certain NYCO staff members high paying (cushy) jobs in the company if they would move aside so he could bring colleagues from other countries with whom he preferred to collaborate.
I never heard that Mortier promised staff “cushy” jobs in the company. I heard that he treated those from the prior administration with respect and courtesy as befitted people who spent their entire lives in the opera world. Regardless of what Mortier may have “promised” staff on his arrival, it makes no difference since he did not come and George Steel with his 6 weeks of experience in Dallas did come. Steel promptly pushed out George Manahan, the only possible center of a counter-Steel movement, and retained Corey Ellison just long enough for her to tell him who “Zerlina” is. The real problem at NYCO was they apparently did not plan on not having ticket/subscription revenues from the “dark season.” As an ex-partner in Goldman-Sachs, you really wonder how Susan Baker could make such a horrible error. As an ex-French teacher, it’s possible to forgive Paul Kellogg for any errors in financial judgement.
Manuela Hoelterhoff names a few more names, too:
“City Opera began rolling through the boroughs like clown Canio and his tragic retinue.”
What an apt image. Tragic, indeed. Yes, name the names and let them sit in virtual pillory.
Ouch! But, it seems, oh so accurate!
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