The troubled New York City Opera will leave Lincoln Center and perform in various smaller venues across New York as its budget was significantly reduced.
The New York City Opera, founded in 1943, is currently the second largest opera company in New York City. It has provided a home for American singers and composers, serving as a career booster for many great opera singers and artists like Carol Vaness, Beverly Sills, Samuel Ramey, Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes.
Lincoln Center has been the home for City Opera in the last 45 years. But at best, the seats are filled up to 40% in the performances. On Friday, City Opera disclosed its plan to leave the place as it arrived--at a less-than-half budget for the next season with 5 operas and 3 concerts. The downsizing will reach to the staff as well.
We love Lincoln center, it's a wonderful place, the general manager of City Opera George Steel said. But they simply cannot afford it. I think we are leaving for good, according to Steel. We want to be out in the city where the people are.
Steel was appointed in January 2009 as general manager and artistic director, and began his career in City Opera from February 2009. City Opera has presented its performances around New York City, making classroom presentations in public schools.
The union for City Opera's singers, dancers and staff sent a letter to the company this week urging the board to change the direction and calling for productions of more familiar operas such as Carmen, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème and La Traviata. In the letter, Steel is quoted saying, opera is expensive, and every time we do a performance we lose money, for the reason of the cutback.
City Opera has shifted its focus from large scale productions of classic opera repertoire to more modern works. To Steel's comfort, some contemporary audiences enjoy its creative approach to reinterpreting opera. But it's just not enough to fill the seats.
While City Opera remains silent as the potential ticket buyers are at a loss for the next season's programs, casts and even where to go for the performance, the financial evaluations and union negotiations will continue.