‘I have managed two opera companies with severe structural difficulties’

Richard Jarman in the Times today on the plight of ENO:

A bankrupt opera company does nobody any good, not least those who have depended on it for their livelihood. Look no further than New York, where the city’s respected second company, New York City Opera, went through a few years of death agonies before the waters parted, the vessel sank and life in the city went on. Except for those who had lost their jobs.

The Passenger by Mieczyslaw Weinberg

Full article here.

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  • People keep forgetting (or never knew) that NY City Opera was financially unstable for most of its existence.

    In the first few years after Beverly Sills took over the company from Julius Rudel, it was evidently not uncommon to have to race to raise enough money to make payroll by the end of that week or that month. (And just as things were stabilizing, the company lost most of its sets and costumes in a warehouse fire.)

    • Was NYC Opera the one that was “taking chances” and doing “innovative programming” that got praise/encouragement from Tommasini?
      If I remember correctly the many millions they burned through in a very short time also contributed to their downfall. This was also while they were planning to move to a “cool” space downtown (millions). I think I remember Tommasini applauding that idea too.
      Too bad the NY Times keeps that guy around.

      • Interesting that the then-Chairman of the Lincoln Center, Reynold Levy, maintains in his recent book “They Told Me Not to Take That Job” that the bankruptcy of NYCO was “a victim of governance failure and management ineptitude,” adding “its death was completely avoidable.” The chapter he devotes to the company’s demise is completely believable.

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