Leaked details of New York City Opera’s 2011-12 season show that the financially ailing opera company will travel to at least three different venues -- the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Museo del Barrio and John Jay College -- bringing a mix of standard and offbeat repertoire.
The broad outlines of the season, given to The New York Times on Wednesday, come in advance of the company’s formal announcement at the Guggenheim Museum next Tuesday. The schedule reflects the previously-announced plans to leave Lincoln Center as a way to stem a flow of red ink.
Perhaps the most unusual feature will be a (yet unnamed) Telemann opera at the Museo del Barrio in May 2012. The 600-seat theater on Fifth Avenue and 104th Street, is known for its opulent murals and distinctive 1924 architecture but is not a mecca for opera lovers.
The company will also turn to a familiar talent: the director Christopher Alden will stage a new production of Così Fan Tutte in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College. Alden has created several productions for City Opera over the past three decades including a high-concept, modern production of Don Giovanni and a new production of Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place which got its New York premiere at City Opera in October.
The 600-seat Gerald W. Lynch Theater is used frequently by Lincoln Center and by Gotham Chamber Opera.
Two productions will appear at the 2,090-seat opera house at the Brooklyn Academy of Music: Verdi’s La Traviata and Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna. Traviata comes via the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY in a production by Jonathan Miller. The production, which keeps the story in the original 19th-century setting, was generally well received at its premiere in 2009. Wainwright’s opera, which was originally slated for the Metropolitan Opera, has already been performed in Manchester, England, and in Toronto.
Notably absent from the leaked plans are larger venues such as the 2,255-seat City Center and the vast Park Avenue Armory, both considered strong candidates among industry watchers. Casting details are also unclear at this point.
General manager George Steel took over at City Opera in February 2009 and told reporters in May that the 58-year-old company doesn't have the money to remain at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. Since then, 11 employees were laid off in an effort to trim a $5 million dollar deficit and a chorus of discontent has grown. Orchestra musicians staged a protest in front of Lincoln Center last week calling for the company to stay at the David H. Koch Theater, where it has been in residence since 1965.
Union officials did not respond to a request for comment on the new season as of press time.