Unasked questions

Now the New York Times has joined the New York City Opera party, adding “new details” (it says) to the story that just surfaced in an AP story, on the Parterre Box blog, and in one of my own posts about incoming director Gerard Mortier allegedly cancelling the 2008-9 season. The Times story has one curiosity. Mortier, reportedly, doesn’t like City Opera’s past productions. Asked about that, he says he might keep some of them, including Jonathan Miller’s famous Little Italy Rigoletto, “which [says the Times] he called ‘a famous production,’ adding, ‘I don’t see why I should throw it away.’” But this wasn’t a New York City Opera production. The English National Opera staged it. Did Mortier not know this, or was his statement just a slip? (Maybe he meant the Miller production of L’elisir d’amore, which the New York City Opera did stage.)

And neither the Times nor the AP talks about some serious questions the story raises. Is it true, as Parterre Box reported, that singers’ managers, trying to negotiate next season, are being stonewalled, without being told why? And if that really is true, how will the company repair relations with those managers, who’d have every right to be annoyed? How much would it cost to cancel all or part of the season? Would the company — as could easily happen — lose more money than it would if it staged the season normally? What about the unions? Would City Opera have to pay (just for instance) its orchestra and stagehands, whether or not they worked? Has the company been talking the unions that it has to deal with, consulting with them in advance about what might be happening?

These are major questions. The answers to them might tell us something — maybe quite a bit — about how the Mortier regime will function. Or about how City Opera’s board functions now. So why hasn’t anyone in the mainstream press (at least so far) asked about these things?

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