Another opera company shuts in New York

Another opera company shuts in New York


norman lebrecht

October 02, 2015

They said City Opera would never die. It did.

They said it could never happen again.

Late yesterday, Gotham Chamber Opera ceased to exist after uncovering a black hole of deficit.

The collapse of two opera companies in New York supports Peter Gelb’s contentious thesis that there are not enough opera lovers in and around the city. The Met plays at 75 percent capacity. There may be other reasons, to be discussed at another time. For the moment, let us regret Gotham’s passing and the opportunities now lost to singers and musicians in the New York area.

gotham chamber opera
picture from Gotham’s 2014 production of Martinu’s rarely-seen Comedy on the Bridge

Gotham press announcement:

Gotham Chamber Opera is ceasing operations and will be closing. The Board of Directors of Gotham Chamber Opera voted today to shut down the organization.

“We regret to announce that Gotham Chamber Opera will cease operations,” said Beatrice Broadwater, president of the Board of Directors of Gotham Chamber Opera. “In early summer, the company’s new executive director, Edward Barnes, uncovered a significant deficit that was not previously disclosed to the board. We do not have, nor do we anticipate having, sufficient donations and pledges that would enable continued operations of the company.”

“I am proud to have founded Gotham Chamber Opera,” said artistic director Neal Goren. “The company’s fifteen year lifespan has been an extraordinary run, and we have been fortunate to be a part of New York City’s cultural landscape. We are grateful to all of our generous donors, collaborators and attendees, and thank them for their support.”

The company’s future productions have been cancelled, and the board is meeting to determine the steps to wrap-up the organization’s affairs.


gotham chamber opera


  • Ross says:

    It’s not a question of audience size or filling the hall.
    It’s about raising enough money. This can be very difficult sometimes.

  • A Met Fan says:

    You see…the problem is this…just as in your personal life, you don’t spend what you don’t have. Plans should never be firm commitments without the resources. A concept lost on many institutions, the (Peter Gelb’s) Met chief among them. With such gambling, the only loser is the public.

  • william osborne says:

    In 2009 the Amato Opera also closed. It seated 107 people. A new company, Amore Opera, bought its sets and continued. There’s a similar small company in Montclair, NJ. There are others in the area, but they are hard to keep track of. They perform with piano or a small shadow of an orchestra. There are so many highly gifted and well trained singers in the USA, but these sorts of operations become their only way to perform.

  • william osborne says:

    Some interesting photos of the abandoned Amato Opera house here:

  • Mikhail Hallak says:

    Norman, it was never about audience for Gotham Chamber. They did great original work, smart and talented people.
    It is about admins that simply don’t do the right thing.
    Time will tell what really happened (hopefully) but Gotham Chamber did not need to die and could have lived for much longer, the artistic level/quality and the audience were never an issue!
    This is senseless!

  • william osborne says:

    I wonder if there’s a much bigger story here. A few months ago, the former Director of the Gotham Chamber Opera was hired as the Director of the San Diego Opera. Did he hide the financial problems at the GCO to improve his employment possibilities in San Diego? How did such a large deficit remain unknown to the GCO and its new Director? At the very least, the former Director needs to make a statement.

    • Samantha says:

      William Osborne, you hit the nail on the head. There is a story as you correctly surmised from reading between the lines. However, the former executive director has issued a statement and denies all culpability, shifting the blame onto “difficult circumstances.”