City Opera footnote

A few further thoughts on the New York City Opera, their $25 ticket promotion (for two special performances), and their ways of attracting a new audience. As I wrote, I saw one of those $25 performances—the opera was Butterfly, with a greeting from the stage at the start, and video introductions to the first two acts—and thought it was quite a success. But now what? Doing this once doesn’t mean much, and in fact might even alienate the audience that the promotion attracted. “We thought they cared about us, and now…?” So what’s the … [Read more...]

Opera in the real world

Here’s something good—something the New York City Opera did on the second and third nights of this season. On the second night (having opened the night before somewhat conventionally, with a new production), they had a gala. All seats were $25, and not all the music was classical. Rufus Wainwright sang; he’s a big opera fan. And the gala finished with the East Village Opera Company, who do dance versions of opera hits. (They’re hardly the only group that’s done this, but their versions—try “La donna è mobile”—are especially tasty.) Of … [Read more...]

Untapped reality

Here are provocative (and very useful) thoughts from Eric Barnhill, a pianist I met when he was in one of my Juilliard courses, the first year I taught there, way back in 1997. He e-mailed me as follows (and of course I’ve posted this with his permission): A belated [reply to] something you blogged in August re: regional groups. Not only are regional ensembles unsung heroes of classical music, I think there is a lot of untapped, appealing material with regional or second-tier groups that they can use to an advantage over "star" ensembles. … [Read more...]


I’m back in action, after what I could call a stimulating rest. It’s exhilarating to move into a new house, especially a gorgeous one (if I do say so), which my wife and I helped design. Spacious, comfortable, views on all four sides, with windows everywhere to bring the views to us, plus three decks and two porches…my reward for challenging the sacred cows of the classical music world? Nah. The only cows  I see are the ones in the field across the road. There’s also a fox who comes around (we think she lives with us, because we’ve found … [Read more...]