Thursday, April 7, 2011

Of our elaborate plans, the end

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans
The end
Of everything that stands
The end
No safety or surprise
The end
I'll never look in to your eyes again

Can you picture what will be?
So limitless and free
Desperately in need of some strangers hand
In a desperate land.....


Some bad news on the operatic front from New York City: the New York City Opera is canceling their fall season. In my opinion, the very future of the company is in doubt. I've had some great nights at the New York State Theater David H. Koch Theater: their great production of Die Tote Stadt, a rare chance to experience Michael Tippett's A Midsummer Marriage, a terrific Cunning Little Vixen. Additionally, compared to the singer-centric mausoleum across the Lincoln Center plaza, NYCO has made some really out-there repetory choices that are right up my alley, the incredible Don Rodrigo and Bomarzo by Ginastera being the productions I wish I had a time machine for.

NYCO has been in crisis mode for at least the last five years. The whole Gerard Mortier debacle is too depressing to go in to detail about, and the George Steel era hasn't been a bed of roses either, handsome as he is.

From my perspective 3,000 miles away, the biggest, intractable problem that NYCO has/has had since 1964 is the fact that they play in a space not designed for opera, but for ballet. This apparently manifested itself in having a very flat sound coming off the stage so as not to amplify the dancers feet hitting the stage. There's no doubt that the New York City Ballet's George Balanchine had more clout than anyone at the NYCO, so it makes sense that the brilliant choreographer would get his way. The net result is that the theater is not really suited for opera, as Mr. Mortier made clear. The need to find a new space that is both acoustically appropriate (there was talk of building an opera house at Ground Zero, but that never got beyond the talking stage) and unencumbered by the need to accommodate NYCB's schedule is paramount.

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