Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Just when I thought I was out ... they pull me back in."

You'd have to be hiding under rock not to have heard that it’s been an unsettled few years at the New York City Opera.

The company has been continually plagued by financial troubles, and the leadership has been indiscriminate since Paul Kellogg announced his departure as general and artistic director.

Then, there was the flap about the unpredictable Gerard Mortier, who was to become general director. His hot-headed "here today, gone tomorrow" scheme nearly put City Opera in front of a Bankruptcy Judge.

There was even talk in the media that the new company logo (right) was reminiscent of the "black hole" that the company had become.

Now, just when things start to fall into place under fast-working George Steel, and just as the they prepare to mount the 2009-2010 season. It happens. An attempted coup.

What an operatic plot! Can't you imagine? The end of the Kellogg era, the villainous Mortier (played by a bass baritone, no doubt), the savior Steel, the attempted coup ... oh, it's just TOO good. Do we think the ghost of a certain Beverly Sills would make an appearance?

I digress.

A source with knowledge of the discussions told New York Observer opera critic Zachary Woolfe:
that a group of former City Opera board members tried to form a coalition to oust key members of the current City Opera board, and had recruited Joe Volpe, former head of the Metropolitan Opera, as their standard-bearer. Getting the powerful seats on the board meant raising a lot of money—very quietly.

It seems the group failed, and so Mr. Steel has the continued endorsement of the board, chaired by former financier Susan Baker.
Joe Volpe? Really? I can't help but think that maybe these rebels were just using Joe Volpe's name. After such a public departure from all things operatic, would he really want to move across the plaza to take charge of City Opera?

Volpe is a smart man. Even he knows that making the move across the plaza would bring to mind a child taking his toys and going to play somewhere else.

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