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September 13, 2013

TT: The George Steel Opera Company

In today's Wall Street Journal "Sightings" column I take note of the current plight of New York City Opera, which is no less dire for being painfully familiar-sounding. Here's an excerpt.

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New York City Opera is in trouble--again. The company could fold if it fails to raise enough money--again.

Yes, you've heard it all before, and no, NYCO isn't crying wolf. If the company fails to raise $7 million by the end of September, the first production of its new season will very likely be its last.

So what?

iz6t.he7qQ2E.jpgDon't get me wrong: I'm not at all indifferent to the fate of City Opera, which has been around for 70 years and throughout most of that time was central to the history of opera in America. But when an artistic organization has been in imminent peril of collapse for the better part of a decade--and when its struggles have reduced it to a shadow of its once-familiar self--such blunt questions are inescapable. In fact, they're essential. Unless George Steel, NYCO's general manager and artistic director since 2009, can explain why the company deserves to continue in its present form...well, it won't....

Whenever opera buffs hear the words "New York City Opera," they reflexively think of the good old days when NYCO was an indispensable part of the cultural life of the city after which it was named. I do, too, and probably always will. But those days ended when City Opera cut its ties with Lincoln Center. Mr. Steel did what he thought he had to do, and he may well have been right--but for better or worse, his New York City Opera is now a thing unto itself, one whose success or failure will have nothing to do with the company's celebrated past....

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Read the whole thing here.

Posted September 13, 2013 12:00 AM

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