Tuesday, September 10, 2013

NYCO - Opera L

Ten years ago, the NYCO endowment was 53 million dollars. When Steel
arrived, it was gone. The opera company has been on life support ever since
and we can now count the days.

It is part of a greater problem. Last season, according to Operabase, New
York had 299 performances of opera and is the 10th city in number of
performances (behind Budapest). In just 2009-10, it was sixth in number of
performances with 359.

This is part of my Bernheimer Conundrum. A few years ago Martin noted here
that it has been 30(?) years since an opera figure had appeared on the cover
of Time Magazine. Why has opera lost its status as news? Opera has a lower
visibility? My general observations about opera from across the pond was the
contrary. In the same period Paris went from 342 to 437.

My first thought was that American managers had not taken the course of
their European colleagues and adopted a more adventurous course for staging
along with expanding the repertory. By being boring, the charitable
contributions, critical to America's artistic lifeblood, were shrinking? A
financial slump was clearly happening with symphony orchestras and major
opera companies cutting back.

But, in a larger sense, it doesn't seem entirely to be related to donors. With
the loss of so many local music critics around the US and so little media
covering classical music is America's interest in "cultural" in the larger sense
in a gradual decline?

You can see smaller companies growing, more internet sites and other
evidence that there are still a significant number of people who adore opera.
Whether this is enough to change anything is still a question. Is there a
solution for the Bernheimer Conundrum?

Frank Cadenhead


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