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Saturday, March 23, 2013

New York City Opera Announces 2013-14 Season

Four Operas, More Performances and a Blonde.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The City Opera opens its season with the U.S. premiere of
Mark Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole.
The New York City Opera announced its 2013-2014 season on Tuesday morning, with a slate of programming that sticks to general manager George Steel’s four-opera formula but also offers some cautious, optimistic expansion on the previous and current seasons.

The press conference opened with the announcement that the company had balanced its books for this fiscal year. This balance was mainly accomplished by leaving Lincoln Center and avoiding traditional operatic expenses of livable orchestra salaries, unionized stage hands and a regular chorus.

Also, the company announces the elevation of conductor Jayce Ogren to the post of music director, a job that had stood vacant since the 2011 departure of George Manahan. Mr. Ogren will be an essential part of future repertory planning, and will work in close collaboration with Mr. Steel.

With those bits of business out of the way, the operas were announced.

The City Opera season starts with the comapny’s first Fall offering since departing Lincoln Center. That opera is the North American premiere of Anna Nicole, Mark Anthony Turnage’s no-holds-barred retelling of the life of the small-town Texas blonde (born Vicki Lynn Hogan) who made it big as a Playboy playmate, and then struck it rich by marrying an 89-year-old billionaire.

This is the Richard Jones staging seen in 2011 for six performances at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden. (This production was filmed for DVD and later reviewed on Superconductor.) Anna Nicole is also the first event of the BAM NextWave Festival, that institution’s month-long celebration of the cutting edge in modern culture.

Anna Nicole opens Sept. 17.

In Feb. 2014 the company returns to the Teatro del Museo del Barrio for the New York premiere of Endimione, an opera by Johann Christian Bach. The youngest of Johann Sebastian Bach’s five composer-children, J.C. Bach was also the only one who composed opera. this pastoral work is a particular enthusiasm of Mr. Steel’s and will run for just four performances.
Endimione opens Feb. 8, 2014.

Following their successful three-year collaboration with BAM, City Opera has announced a new partnership with Brooklyn's Arts at St. Ann's. The first fruits of that collaboration will be Béla Bartók's one-act psychodrama Bluebeard's Castle in a production by Daniel Kramer. Setting this claustrophobic story in a vast Brooklyn warehouse (in late February and early March) may seem counter-intuitive, but there are eight performances if the weather turns inclement.
Bluebeard's Castle opens Feb. 28, 2014.

For the final opera of the season, the City Opera returns to director Christopher Alden for Le Nozze di Figaro. This is the third and last of the director's cycle of  Mozart-Da Ponte operas, following a grim 2010 Don Giovanni set in a funeral parlor and a somber 2012 Cosí fan tutte presented as a turn-of-the-century romp in Central Park. Not much is known about the setting of Mr. Alden's Figaro, except that Rod Gilfry sings the title role. The production will be mounted at City Center.
Le Nozze di Figaro opens April 19, 2014.
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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.