NYCO flashback in Boston

Opinions have been flying among online opera lovers on the topic of New York City Opera‘s dissolution, and one of the nicer things to come out of the comments sections are links to full videos of old telecasts of NYCO performances, including their 1999 performance of Jack Beeson‘s Lizzie Borden, which they premiered in 1965.  (link to part 2)

Nice to see those newer works documented, since they don’t necessarily get much traffic outside the original commissioning opera house…  That being said, Boston Lyric Opera is actually performing a new, reduced chamber version of the opera later this month!  So watch the original to prepare for this latest version…


Gives a somewhat comforting sense of continuity even in the wake of NYCO‘s ignominous falling apart…

Speaking of beloved New York institutions which have since shuttered, the Society of Illustrators recently announced four of the special guests for next year’s MoCCA Arts Fest, and it’s a venerable bunch, so should be fun!

Swan Aria

Anna Nicole at NYCO & BAM

Image by Sarah Krulwick, Copyright New York Times

New York City Opera‘s financial woes may have finally caught up to it in a big way, as today may be the company’s last day in existence (barring any last minute injection of $7 million, rich opera lovers take note).

They will have completed their first production this season, of  Mark-Anthony Turnage‘s Anna Nicole in a co-production with the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  I saw it and was very pleasantly surprised; it had a witty, boppy libretto by Richard Thomas, a colorful, engaging and insightful production by Richard Jones, and a fascinatingly score, equal parts jazzy, poppy, and spiky.

I’ve been looking everything I can up about it now, and just now discovered this “Making of” interview with the above creators at BAM this season:

It was definitely a good way for NYCO to go out if that’s what it comes to, showcasing their edge on the New York opera scene, not afraid to bring in unusual work, which I always appreciated.  I guess the comfort is that the Met seems to be getting more adventurous lately, taking on repertoire first championed by NYCO, and there are also many smaller companies popping up that can help fill that off-the-beaten-path niche.  Still, a sad end to a great local institution…

Opera Fundraiser

The financial woes of New York City Opera raise their head again, with the news that if they cannot raise $20 million by year’s end, they may have to cancel most of this season and all of the next.

NYCO 13/14 Season

Towards this goal, they’ve launched their very own KickStarter campaign, hoping to raise $1 million by the end of this month.  It just started Sunday, and as of this writing they’re 2% of the way there…

Not sure what the most money raised on KickStarter has been (maybe $7 million for a high tech watch?), but $1 million seems ambitious…

I guess this is as good a time as any to share this neat video on NYCO‘s education initiatives, staging operas for New York School kids and sending artists to the schools as well.  This past year they put on Unsuk Chin‘s 2007 Alice in Wonderland, a very modern work, but i like that some kids’ first exposure to the “stuffy” medium of opera is something so unexpected…


New York City Opera’s Opera is Elementary 2013 from New York City Opera on Vimeo.

This season’s planned opera is Tobias Picker‘s Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the book by Roald Dahl.  I actually saw this in its world premiere at the Los Angeles Opera in 1998!  For more on the work, visit Picker’s page on it.

Fantastic Mr. Fox at LA Opera

Tobias Picker with cast members of Fantastic Mr. Fox at LA Opera, 1998

Once again, here’s the KickStarter, in case you’re feeling generous…  Also, NYCO & BAM’s presentation of Anna Nicole starts next week, so hurry and grab whatever tickets may remain!

Cunning Little Opera

In my own end-of-semester flurry, I overlooked the end-of-semester operatic offerings from the music schools here in New York!  For example, the Juilliard School’s Opera program is ending the semester with an all-out production of Leoš Janáček‘s 1924 Czech opera The Cunning Little Vixen.  

The Juilliard School's Cunning Little Vixen

The Juilliard School’s Cunning Little Vixen

There are performances tomorrow and Thursday at 8pm, with $30 tickets, half-off for students in-person at the Juilliard box office.  This is bound to be a popular event, so if it sells out before you can get in, check out the Juilliard calendar for other end-of-semester performances (including lots of ticketless, free ones!).

The Cunning Little Vixen seems like a fun challenge for directors and designers; you don’t get too many chances in opera to direct singing animals.  It’s been performed before in New York at NYC Opera in a 1980s Maurice Sendak-designed production and more recently at the NY Philharmonic.  Somehow a video of the complete 1983 NYCO performance is up on YouTube, and since NYCO‘s Sendak production was lost in a fire, it’s an especially valuable resource.

Peruvian Perricholi

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

Tonight and Saturday are your last chances to see the final opera in New York City Opera‘s current season, Offenbach‘s 1868 operetta La Périchole at New York City Center.

The story is inspired by the real-life 17th century Peruvian singer (and mistress to the Viceroy) Micaela Villegas.  So in addition to opulent costumes like the one above, costume designer Suzanne Fabry also got to design some altiplano cholita costumes…

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

1956 La Monnaie costume design for La Périchole by Suzanne Fabry

These designs come from La Monnaie‘s super entertaining digital archives, but I’ll admit that my original motivation for the “fashion” tag was Nana Mouskouri‘s awesome get-up in her duet with Thierry Le Luron.  Oh man, 1960s French variety shows, yes please.

NYCO and director Christopher Alden‘s production leans a little more modern (and Mexican), but it looks like a riot!

Religious Rossini

The second half of NYC Opera‘s current season is fast approaching, and I’m seeing their posters everywhere lately, even my local pizza shop!   So here’s a preview of the video projections designed by Beehive studio for Michael Count‘s production of Rossini‘s 1818 opera Mosè in Egitto.

Rossini’s Moses in Egypt – Trailer from on Vimeo.

And for some more background on the creation of these animations, here’s Beehive founder Ada Whitney:


So get yer’ tickets, for Mosè in Egitto and Offenbach’s La Perichole!  Right now you can get 10% off tickets for both operas with Promo Code 10678 when buying tickets online!

NYCO’s New Season

NYC Opera just announced their 2013/2014 season, and the modern British invasion of the New York opera scene, begun this season with the double-feature of Adès operas at NYCO and the Met, continues with the American premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage‘s 2011 Royal Opera House -commissioned Anna Nicole.

(Yes, that Anna Nicole.)  The production, a co-production with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, will open their 2013 Next Wave Festival of new art.  Predictably, the original production got mixed reviews.  But I’m kind of morbidly curious?  Here are the first 10 minutes on YouTube if you want more of a teaser (there is a DVD too).

After that, NYCO will exhibit some of that operatic whiplash I love so much by going back to the 18th century to present another American premiere, of Johann Christian Bach‘s 1772 Endimione.