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Friday, January 20, 2012

It's Only a Paper House

City Opera tickets reduced to $25 a seat.
by Paul Pelkonen
Leaving Lincoln Center has forced City Opera to be creative in seeking a new venue.
This one is low-cost, and best of all, folds up.
The New York City Opera has announced that all remaining tickets for its 2012 performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music will be just $25, thanks to a generous donation made by the Reed Foundation and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation. 

City Opera is scheduled to open its season February 12 with a Jonathan Miller staging of Verdi's La Traviata. The company will follow it with Rufus Wainwright's first opera, Prima Donna, which will have its United States premiere on February 19.

Each opera will receive just four performances.

Following a lengthy labor dispute, the City Opera is beginning its first season as a "guerilla" opera company. It has left its Lincoln Center home of almost 50 years and "gone rogue," (my term) and spreading its season between three different theaters and two boroughs.

In addition to the BAM performances, the company will offer Così fan tutte at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Georg Philip Telemann's Orfeo at El Museo del Barrio, located on Fifth Avenue. The Così is an eagerly anticipated followup to Christopher Alden's acclaimed 2009 production of Don Giovanni. Mr. Alden will complete the "Da Ponte" trilogy of Mozart operas with a production of Le Nozze di Figaro in an upcoming season.

The company moved out of the former New York State Theater in April of 2011, citing the rising costs of being a secondary tenant in the recently renovated venue. This followed the cancellation of the 2008-2009 season, during which said renovations took place. A number of City Opera veterans, including tenor Plácido Domingo and soprano Catherine Malfitano were critical of the move, saying that the company was sacrificing its identity for economic reasons.

The 2012 season was announced in July of 2011. That announcement was picketed by members of the opera's orchestra and chorus, who were incensed at the company's new contract offers. A bitter labor dispute followed, with the intervention of a federal mediator and a January 9 lockout of the chorus. 

Musicians Local 802 and the American Guild of Musical Artists reached settlements on Tuesday, assuring that the opera season will go forward.

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