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Friday, April 8, 2011

City Opera Turns On the Dark

The Zen enso: interplay between Form and Void.
From PSNT.net

Ed. Update: The City Opera has sent out a letter to its subscribers, indicating that the NYCO's 2011-2012 season will be announced in "late May." More news as it's gathered.

The New York City Opera has announced that the organization is suspending plans for a 2011-2012 season, pending a "top to bottom" organizational review, as announced in today's Wall Street Journal.

The season announcement, which has been overdue for at least a month, is on hold pending the review. But at this point, it is unclear whether such a season will happen, given low attendance numbers and the company's $22.5 million dollar operating deficit.

According to the WSJ report, the company is considering a number of cost-cutting options, including a possible move out of its current home at Lincoln Center. In recent years, the company, under the leadership of director George Steel, has put on just five operas in the last two seasons, when 10 or 12 was the norm every year. They were also forced to shorten their fall season, ceding theater time to the New York City Ballet in an effort to curtail costs.

The City Opera's money troubles started after a disastrous 2008 season in which the company was forced to go dark for a year in order to make improvements to its Lincoln Center home in the former New York State Theater. Since City Opera is the secondary tenant in that venue, they were forced to shut down for a year. However, the orchestra and stage hands were still paid under union contract. This  gutted the company's endowment fund, and caused the crisis facing NYCO today.

The organizational review comes just three weeks before the end of the 2011 season, which also marks the end of the opera company's current labor agreements. Whether it is the end of City Opera as we know it, or a draconian labor negotia

Seance for a Wet Afternoon, the fifth and final production of the City Opera's 2011 season, opens April 19th. It may be the last we hear of this once-proud opera company for some time.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.