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.