Okay, La Cieca’s going to commit and say that based on what hearsay she’s heard said thus far, George Steel is going to say, “Thanks but no thanks” to the NYCO.
Why? Two reasons, La Cieca would say.
1. Whoever takes on the NYCO job, no matter how adventurous and no matter how well-connected, is going to have a hell of a time keeping the company alive, let alone repositioning the company as an important and vital element in the city’s arts scene. The first year or maybe two is going to be about survival; after that, maybe a new director will be able to do something vaguely artistic. As La Cieca understands it, Steel is an idealist, but from what she’s heard, he doesn’t seem to be disconnected from reality.
2. There is really no way to spin the jump from Dallas to NYCO without Steel’s coming off as a total turncoat dick. Which is not to say that the move would necessarily be made from motives of unvarnished dickishness, but it would be a public relations nightmare. In fact, the situation is already a mess of gossip and speculation (for which La Cieca readily accepts her share of the responsibility) but, still, who wants to go into the top spot at NYCO with “dick” written all over his face? (Bayreuth, La Scala, the Met — for that, it’s worth being called a few dirty names. But NYCO?)
So, La Cieca has said what she has to say. She wishes the best of good fortune to Mr. Steel in Dallas, and should there be a resurgent City Opera, say, five to seven years from now, she hopes Steel will be on the short list for honcho. For now, your doyenne only hopes that the NYCO board is interviewing somebody wonderful under the radar, but she’s not betting the farm on it.