New York City Opera Sets Go On Sale

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 01:00 PM

The Jonathan Miller production of 'L’Elisir d’Amore' at NYC Opera The Jonathan Miller production of 'L’Elisir d’Amore' at NYC Opera

Procrastinating holiday shoppers with a taste for grandeur take note: New York City Opera began the sale of its old sets this week, in advance of an online auction scheduled for mid-January.

The company is accepting offers on some 80 of its sets, props and costumes, representing stagings from the past five decades. The pre-sale comes with the stipulation that buyers keep the original productions intact.

Next month, the productions will be auctioned off and available piecemeal, according to the auction house's website. Included are many historic productions: Francesca Zambello's Alcina, Peter Sellars's L'Amour de Loin, Maurice Sendak's The Cunning Little Vixen, Mark Lamos's Madama Butterfly and Sarah Caldwell's Ariade auf Naxos.

In most cases, the costumes, props and sets for an opera are offered as a complete package (suggested prices are not listed). The buyer is responsible for removing and transporting the sets, according to the site.

The sale comes as City Opera is cutting expenses across the board; company management recently told the New York Times that it can no longer afford the $500,000 rent on the New Jersey warehouse where the sets are stored.

Below are a few of the productions for sale:

The Jonathan Eaton and Beni Montresor production of Puccini's Turandot from the 1970s was revived several times over the decades.

Lotfi Mansouri's production of Rossini's Barber of Seville dates from 1988. That same year Mansouri became the general manager of San Francisco Opera.

In 2007, City Opera gave the New York premiere of Margaret Garner, the 2005 opera with score by Richard Danielpour and libretto by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. The staging was a new production for the company by director Tazewell Thompson.

James Robinson’s 1998 production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel featured Jessie Raven, center, as Humperdinck’s Witch, with Jennifer Rivera as Hansel, left, and Jennifer Aylmer as Gretel.


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Comments [6]

Paul Shortt from Cincinnati

Hi to Chuck Giles!
Yo, so you're still at it!! You must be very old and very gray by now. Me, I just shaved off my gray-turning-white beard and Viola!
So, Opera Omaha just contacted me with news they bought the Carmen, did I have the model, paint elevations and drawings? Well I said, the model could still be back in the storage corridor, but I doubt it. But I did have 4 color photos of the model though. I might possibly have the original drawings and I'd check but that is it. So I'll ask them what they actually received from you all, unless you want to tell me (so as to be prepared, etc.!)
On another note, I know I received a royalty when the set rented to another company. I do receive a royalty for the sale of a set from other opera companies (e.g., Philadelphia Opera, Syracuse Opera, Indianapolis Opera, etc.). So the $64 question is, do I get a nice Lent surprise from NYCO, or a bad one?
I'd love to hear any other news from you, like how's your gold game going, etc.
Was in the State Theater (Koch, that is) in September to see a NYC ballet. Enjoyed the afternoon.
Well, you take care. Wish I'd seen some of your non-traditional hip slick operas.
Best, Paul Shortt

Jan. 24 2013 04:12 PM
nancy reynolds

If this is the "New York City" Opera, doesn't "New York City" have a voice in what is happening now? Doesn't "New York City" own a piece of this company? And isn't "New York City" in part responsible for what happens to it? Taxpayer money surely is involved; this is not George Steele's private fiefdom. How can the dismantling of this institution, and of its history, be(legally) allowed to happen?

Dec. 29 2012 12:11 AM
David from NYC

I read the article in Opera News that came out a year ago titled The Ballad of NYCO." What a travesty on the part of current and past management! The company is a shadow of it's former self and should not longer be called City Opera. Beverly Sills is turning in her grave!

Dec. 27 2012 10:06 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

SAD, SAD, ESAD!!! As a former NYCO singer and as a coaching student of the founding director and its principal conductor Maestro Laszlo Halasz, and as a regular member of audiences of their successful, in terms of artistry and box office, standard operas, I am much aggrieved. The NYCO was THE intern alternative to making one's career experience in opera in Europe. We can all acknowledge that classical music has a smaller audience today than it has had and the future does not look all that bright. Germany, Austria, and the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, are about the only ones open to American opera singers seeking a start to their careers. I am a Wagnerian romantischer heldentenor and an opera composer. My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by American opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. Also, Florestan's monologue "Gott! welch dunkel hier!' from "FIDELIO" and "Sound an Alarm" from Handel's "JUDAS MACCABAEUS." They can be heard from my live performance on my three websites,, ,, and They received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles. On my websites one may download, free, at "Recorded Selections" my singing of Siegfried, Gotterdammerung Siegfried, Tristan, Siegmund, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Rienzi, Walther von Stolzing, Otello, Eleazar and Florestan.

Dec. 22 2012 01:54 PM
Brunnhilde from NYC

Shame! Shame! Shame! The dismantling of the New York City Opera is disgraceful! Mr. Steel and the NYCO Board of Trustees should all resign! or better yet be fired. It's being dismantled to create a "new" company, non resident company, non union, pick-up chorus, pick-up small orchestra, in total control by Mr. Steel. I can't believe this is being allowed to happen. Shame, shame shame!

Dec. 22 2012 10:54 AM
David from Flushing

I hope this will benefit some other companies in need of discount productions. It is still sad and marks the decline of the NYCO.

I recall when the Met lost a number of productions in a warehouse fire. I understand they now store each production in a truck trailer for ease of transportation and keeping things together.

Dec. 21 2012 07:21 PM

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