Last month, the New York City Opera-- what Mayor LaGuardia called "the People's Opera" -- declared bankruptcy. This is/was the opera that introduced Americans to Placido Domingo and Beverly Sills. Make what you will of the fact that the bankruptcy announcement coincided with the presentation of a new opera about Anna Nicole Smith.
This is either a problem very specific to the New York Opera, or part of a virus that has been taking down opera companies all over the U.S. and maybe all over the world. In Italy, where opera receives much more public and government support, one fourth of all major opera companies were in a version of bankruptcy as of 2008.
Meanwhile, opera creators are trying some really fascinating stuff with the form, often at the level of chamber opera, where the production costs are not to staggering.
- Willie Waters is the former director of Connecticut Opera.
- Anne Midgette is the Chief Classical Music Critic at the Washington Post.
- Steve Metcalf was the Courant’s full-time music critic for over twenty years, and thence a faculty member and founder/curator of the Garmany chamber music series at The Hartt School.
- Nico Muhly is a composer & arranger in New York City.
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