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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wherever They May Roam

Ten Possible Locations for the New York City Opera
The Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center, currently moored by Riker's Island.
Friday evening's announcement by City Opera general manager George Steel that the company would depart Lincoln Center caused huge waves in the opera community. Mr. Steel stated that the company would be moving to a new performance space, producing two large opera productions and three small-scale works. But where they're going is anyone's guess. Here are some helpful Superconductor suggestions.

1) Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center
Where is it? Better known as the Riker's Island Prison Barge
Pros: Mobile venue, enabling the company to perform in all five boroughs. Modest seating capacity for opera. Easy to house singers and choristers if needed. Guaranteed audience.
Cons: There's already a floating opera house in Bregenz, Austria. Captive audience may not like opera.

2) New York City Center
Where is it? The recently renovated former home of the City Opera from 1947 until its move to Lincoln Center is on West 55th St. Still used for ballet and theater performances.
Pros: They say you can't go home again.
Cons: It's like moving back in with your parents.
A computer rendering of the Barclays Center, under construction in downtown Brooklyn. © SHoP Architects.
3) Barclays Center
Where is it? The new basketball arena being built on what's left of downtown Brooklyn.
Pros: Good access to subway, LIRR.
Cons: Angry Brooklynites. No parking. But they should have thought of this before building the arena, no?

4) Best Buy Theater
Where is it? Subterranean concert venue in Times Square.
Pros: Nice acoustics, lounge ambience, escalators, nearby dining.
Cons: Snarky articles in certain newspapers about opera becoming an "underground" art form.

5) Brooklyn Academy of Music: Howard Gilman Opera House
Where is it? 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn.
Pros: Classic opera house where Enrico Caruso sang his last performance.
Cons: Too logical a choice.
An aerial view of the Owls Head treatment plant.
6) Owls' Head Wastewater Treatment Plant
Where is it? On the waterfront in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Pros: Spacious, wide waterfront location. Park nearby. Spectacular views of Staten Island and New Jersey. Convenient to the Belt Parkway.
Cons: Should speak for themselves.

7) The Beacon Theatre
Where is it? 2124 Broadway on the Upper West Side.
Pros: Good acoustics and old-fashioned theater ambiance.
Cons: Cirque de Soleil's Banana Shpeel is a tough act to follow. Plus there's a risk of performances of La bohéme being picketed by angry Allman Brothers fans.

8) Walter A. Damrosch Park
Where is it? 63rd St. and Amsterdam Avenue
Pros: Short commute as it's next to the former New York State Theater.
Cons: Located (quite literally) in the shadow of the Met. And didn't they say they were leaving Lincoln Center?

9) Crif Dogs
Where is it? 113 St. Marks Place
Pros: Good on-site cuisine. Small space, ideal for intimate operas. Has its own speak-easy (complete with hidden entrance) for board meetings and public functions.
Cons: It smells like hot dogs.
The American Dreams Meadowlands,
or what it would look like if it had opened as the Xanadu Mall.
10) American Dream Meadowlands (formerly "Xanadu Mall.")
Where is it? Unfinished boondoggle of a sports and entertainment complex located in the Meadowlands next to the new football stadium.
Pros: Large, flexible venue. Caters to opera fans who like to tailgate before the performance. Easy to add a gift shop. Has its own ski slope for future revivals of Intermezzo.
Cons: It's in frickin' New Jersey! And it's not opening until 2013.
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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.