George Manahan Exits New York City Opera

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

George Manahan, New York City Opera’s music director, has left after thirteen years at the financially struggling company.

After conducting three productions last season in the David H. Koch Theater, the 59-year-old conductor’s name was conspicuously absent from plans for 2011-12, City Opera’s first season as a traveling company. Instead, the schedule indicates two TBA conductors plus Christian Curnyn (Così Fan Tutte) and Gary Thor Wedow (Telemann’s Orpheus).

In an interview on Tuesday with The New York Times, City Opera general manager and artistic director George Steel said Manahan simply wasn't "available" for any of next season's dates. But as Steel weighed the company's chronic budgetary woes, he realized that "given the size of the company now, it doesn’t make sense for us to have a music director.”

City Opera spokesperson Maggie McKeon declined to comment further. Calls to Manahan's manager were unanswered.

According to the company's 2010 tax returns, Manahan earns $280,000, plus another $47,000 in benefits. City Opera is facing dire financial problems, including a $5 million deficit this season and an endowment that has dwindled to $4.8 million, from $55 million.

A longtime champion of contemporary music in New York, Manahan was hired in 1996 by then-artistic and general director Paul Kellogg. Last year he was named music director of the American Composers Orchestra. He also started a teaching position at the Manhattan School of Music.

City Opera has previously eliminated eleven staff positions, including its director of artistic planning.


More in:

Comments [6]

Michael Meltzer

I note that "Complete Coverage - New York City Opera" has reappeared at the bottom of your home page.
Thank you!

Aug. 04 2011 04:48 PM
Michael Meltzer

WQXR: Why is this not a topic for your "opera blog" column, but Mayor Bloomberg's podium appearance is?
You are in danger of being perceived as more absorbed in journalistic novelty and sensation than in musical content and concerns.
Your city opera update section has disappeared from the bottom of the home page. We are still in a critical period and many listeners are upset with goings-on at Lincoln Center.
Please don't close the book!

Aug. 04 2011 10:10 AM

To Daniel NP:

Oh yes, far better that money and support go to professional wrestling, football and their ilk. After all, since they're not "elitist" they must be, what? More American?

Aug. 04 2011 09:23 AM
Daniel NP from New Jersey

Numbness is a feeling that is appropriate for the future of the New York City Opera, an elitist organization. Few memorable new productions - all increasingly absurdist, cacophonic and pretentious - No outreach programs for minorities and the poor. I hope NYC Opera does die quickly, to be replaced by an Inclusive and Approachable institution.

Aug. 03 2011 08:39 PM
Michael Meltzer

If the Malfitano artists' petition to keep City Opera at Lincoln Center is ever going to reach 10,000 signers, it could use some help.
Read and sign on at

Aug. 03 2011 05:43 PM
Michael Meltzer

If we are not witnessing the systematic dismantling of a New York musical institution, what exactly ARE we witnessing?

Aug. 03 2011 05:37 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR