Friday, September 27, 2013

For NYCO, the buxom lady has sung

No, that's not the Old Howard burlesque theater in Boston, but what will probably be the last production of the New York City Opera, Sarah Joy Miller in the title role of "Anna Nicole" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Verdi it is not, nor Wagner nor even Puccini, and on Thursday the City Opera board of directors voted to start bankruptcy proceedings next week. The company is $5.5 million short of the money it needs to finish the season, and $18.5 million short of its funding goal to open again next year.

NYCO was founded during the mayoralty of Fiorello La Guardia, who called it "the people's opera." (The first performance, of "Tosca," was in 1944.) Ironically, it may have been doomed by its move to Lincoln Center, where it was housed next door to the Metropolitan Opera's splendid new home, but in the much inferior New York State Theater. The acoustics were poor, and the great young stars of yesteryear (Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Samuel Ramey) had pretty much defected to the Met. As the big house grew in stature under Jimmy Levine, the NYCO became steadily less necessary, until it became a traveling troupe with a foreshortened season. And now it appears to be gone.


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