NYC Opera Makes BAM a Regular Venue

April 18, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Ronald Blum
Associated Press

BROOKLYN — New York City Opera will continue to use the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) as a venue for the 2012-13 season and will split the season between BAM and its former home, the New York City Center.

After fleeing Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts last summer because of the company’s deteriorated finances, City Opera used three venues this season, starting at BAM, moving on to the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College and ending up next month at El Museo del Barrio.

The company said it reached agreements to use BAM and City Center as its primary theaters through the 2014-15 season.

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“BAM is thrilled to enter a multi-year alliance with New York City Opera,” said BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins. “Their productions earlier this year were a great addition to our programming roster and exciting for our respective audiences. On behalf of my partner, [BAM] executive producer Joseph Melillo, and myself, we welcome City Opera for three more years of artistic innovation.”

“I believe we have  successfully implemented our new model for the company and that the New York City Opera is on firm footing,” City Opera chairman Chuck Wall said.

Like this season, 2012-13 will consist of an abbreviated schedule of 16 performances of four operas. Next season includes new stagings of Thomas Ades’ Powder Her Face (Feb. 15-23) and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (Feb. 24-March 2) at BAM, and Rossini’s Mose in Egitto (Moses in Egypt) (April 14-20) and Offenbach’s La Perichole (April 21-27) at City Center.

Built in 1923, originally called Mecca Temple and known for many years as City Center of Music and Drama, the auditorium a block south of Carnegie Hall in Midtown Manhattan was home to City Opera for 1,447 performances of 108 operas, starting with Puccini’s Tosca on Feb. 21, 1944, and ending with Lehar’s The Merry Widow on Nov. 15, 1965.

City Opera moved to Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater, opening on Feb. 22, 1966, with Alberto Ginastera’s Don Rodrigo and playing its final performance there last May 1, Stephen Schwartz’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon.

In its last full season at Lincoln Center, City Opera presented 13 productions in 2007-08. The company then stumbled, missing a season of staged performances to have its auditorium renovated and hiring Gerard Mortier as general manager, only to watch him quit before he was to start in 2009-10.

General manager George Steel said the company’s budget of about $13.5 million this season was balanced for the first time in 12 years. Its endowment has been stable for the past year at $9 million, down from $55 million.

He expects sellouts for all 16 performances this season, helped by $25 tickets that were underwritten by a donor. He hopes to expand seasons to 8-10 operas in the future but has no timetable. There also is no timeframe for hiring a music director to replace George Manahan, who left a year ago.

“We will expand on sustainable basis,” Steel said.

Christopher Alden will complete his cycle of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas with Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) in a future season. Alden is directing La Périchole next season.

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