City Opera Returns, Ready for a Comeback

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New York's City Opera is making its homecoming tonight.

As John Schaefer points out, City Opera had a very difficult off-season. The company was essentially homeless for a full season as its theater underwent renovations. Its director left abruptly and, like all not-for-profits, the opera was hurt by the economic crisis. A challenging mix for a company trying to compete with the Met.

But, now it's back in the newly renovated (and renamed) David H. Koch Theater, which has been getting its own buzz for a dramatic art installation in the lobby by E.V. Day. And Schaefer says that City Opera's new artistic director, George Steel, and his staff have the company poised for a comeback.

They’ve put together a typically interesting, offbeat, and surprising season — they even had to add a fifth performance of Hugo Weisgall’s “Esther,” a very unexpected and pleasant surprise. I think this shows that City Opera can play in the big leagues, even in a city that already has the premiere big league team.

The season gets underway tonight at 7 p.m. with a benefit concert, "American Voices," that will include Lauren Flanigan, Marc Kudisch, Samuel Ramey, the New York City Ballet and Rufus Wainwright.

Read Schaefer's take on the return of city opera here. He had Robin Pogrebin of The New York Times and James Jordan, author of the opera blog Parterre Box on Soundcheck this afternoon on 93.9 FM.

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Comments [1] from BOONTON, NJ

I can appreciate the dilemma facing the NYCO with an economy faltering and a diminished audience due to a nearly complete lack of non-commercial support from TV, radio, and the school systems. Also, the sparsity of outstanding teachers for the vocal students.
If the government is shut down, our country will lose much more than our cultural institutions. Public broadcasting and the universities along with most of what we need as civilized citizens of the world will be lost to us for who knows how long. it is important to have, especially in singing, the best of instruction. The Scandinavian countries do realize that fact. I have had the advantage of studying voice with the MET OPERA's Wagnerian superstars baritone Friedrich Schorr, bass Alexander Kipnis, mezzo Margarete Matzenauer, mezzo Karin Branzell and baritone Martial Singher, studying with them at Juilliard, New York College of Music, Manhattan School of Music and New York College of Music, now part of New York University. As the Met Opera continues to become more and more relevant and extends its reach, we may hope for a new Renaissance of opera lovers and performers.

The great and greater performers of Europe came to teach here, in New York. Stars of the Met in Caruso's day, Frieda Hempel and Margarete Matzenauer, I studied with privately, at their residences.

I studied with maestro Laszlo Halasz, who was the founding general manager and principal conductor of the NYCO for 30 years until his passing . He made the NYCO function with profit, introducing women and ethnics into the orchestra and principal singer ranks. HALASZ succeeded also in difficult times, including set designers and stage directors from Broadway. For that time, an extraordinary venture.

Apr. 08 2011 10:14 PM

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