UPDATE: La Cieca has just heard that the “dark season” is not a done deal just yet. The NYCO board meets next week to make that decision. (Given how late in the game this is, most likely the “decision” will be no more than a formality. But La Cieca will keep her ear to the ground, not to mention her shoulder to the wheel and her nose to the grindstone. She also intends to free her mind with the intention that her ass should follow.)
La Cieca has been hearing whispers and grumblings from here and there for a couple of months now, so maybe it’s time to go out on a limb and predict that the New York City Opera will take a season-long hiatus in 2008-09. Yes, that’s right, no season at all, not until the opening of Gérard Mortier‘s first year of direction in the fall of 2009.
The primary reason driving La Cieca’s gloomy prediction is the lack of any sense of what the repertoire or casting would be for 2008-09, even as 2007 draws to a close. NYCO, like other opera companies, has a fairly long lead time in planning upcoming seasons. Their practice in recent years has been to lock in repertoire and casting more than a year before the beginning of a given season.
For example, it was fairly common knowledge by the summer of 2006 that the current NYCO season would include Vanessa, Cendrillion, King Arthur and so forth; major casting was already set by then as well. Repertoire choices for Mortier’s first season leaked several months ago: 2009-10 will feature The Rake’s Progress, Einstein on the Beach, Nixon in China, V?c Makropulos, Pelléas et Mélisande, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Saint François d’Assise and Death in Venice.
No such details have surfaced about plans for 2008-09; in fact, an informant tells La Cieca that ever since early last summer “managers have been attempting to nail down the schedule and engagements for their artists, but have been met with stone cold silence from the [NYCO] administration.”
This same source continues with a little speculation that your doyenne must say she finds reasonable enough:
The official reason given [for the cancellation of the 2008-09 season] will be that Mortier wants to freshen up and fix the hall in conjunction with NYCB (and they certainly will take the time given to do some work on the State Theater, remove the sound system, etc.) but the real reason was he was so patently appalled by every performance he saw this year and last that he wants a literal fresh start for the entire company, and wants no attachment whatsoever to the past artistic administration.