Culture Magazine

Requiem for the Audience

By Superconductor @ppelkonen

or...Yet Another Post About the City Opera

"One sound, one single sound. One kiss, one single kiss.
A face outside the window pane. However did it come to this?"
--Pink Floyd, "Yet Another Movie."

Requiem for the Audience

There's a problem with letting billionaires name things.
 Image from The Simpsons © 1994 Gracie Films/FOX Network.

In a theater that used to be named for the great state of New York, there used to be an opera company.
The New York City Opera was conceived in 1947, blessed by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as "the people's opera." Hizzoner tore the first ticket in two. The company flourished, despite being stuck in the difficult-to-manage space at City Center and being seen as an upstart "little brother" to the mighty (and well-heeled) Metropolitan Opera.
When Lincoln Center opened, City Opera settled into its new digs at the New York State Theater, a vast, democratically conceived limestone-and-concrete edifice that made up one of the three noble theaters that had landed atop what used to be the West Side slums. The Met was right next door, but the scrappy City Opera held its own for many decades.
The artists were happy, secure in their new home: the people's opera in the people's theater.
The slow, agonizing death of New York City Opera, helped along by the recent decision by general director George Steel to uproot the company from this cozy little home is not just about the loss of jobs or some effort to "dismantle" the company or shut out the union musicians who are its lifeblood.
The decision of City Opera, which forsook Lincoln Center in April in order to "go rogue" with a half-season of four operas performed at three locations around the city, is a horrible one. It is difficult for the artists and musicians, who find themselves reduced to a "pick-up" ensemble.
But here it will be postulated: this decision has the worst consequences for the audience, who have to follow the opera company's skeleton crew around the city like they're playing some bizarre operatic version of Midnight Madness.

Requiem for the Audience

"Um, Mr. Burns, I don't think we can mount a Franco Zeffirelli
production of Die Zauberflöte in that model airplane."
 Image from The Simpsons © 1994 Gracie Films/FOX Network.

This is about an opera company board that pays their fearless leader a six-figure salary while refusing to earmark any money for their musicians and choristers. Those fine hard-working artists face salary reductions from around $35,000/yr to a mere $5,000, reflecting what's happened in this American economy.
It's about that same leader having the unmitigated nerve to go on Huffington Post (another company that doesn't believe in paying its employees) and writing an "article" that is essentially a retread of the same flip platitudes that characterized the press conference which he gave last Tuesday at the Guggenheim Museum. I know. I was there.
It's about the massive donation made to the State Theater by a certain former Libertarian candidate for vice president-turned-billionaire. Much like the Simpsons' Montgomery Burns, Mr. Koch renamed the building after himself, (a name which this publication prefers not to use.) The State Theater was built for the people, not for David Hamilton Koch. They never should have allowed this man to rename the theater. That was the death knell, the funeral bell for the former "people's opera."
The people's opera company has left the people's theater.
In its place: humiliation of the singers, musicians, choristers and audience that once made up the lifeblood of a pretty good opera company.
Turn out the lights.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • A New Way to Shop for the Most Unique Sunglasses

    Shop Most Unique Sunglasses

    These unique sunglasses represent smart style for women's fashion and are only available for a limited time. This startup has made a line of luxury sustainable... Read more

    13 hours, 30 minutes ago by   Meghashop
  • Who Are the Members of Diet Doctor?

    Members Diet Doctor?

    Who are you? We asked our members and received 1,100 replies: Most members are women, and more specifically middle-aged women. This is a group of people that... Read more

    13 hours, 48 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
  • Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2017 – Daily Updates – Day 8 – Alan Young

    Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2017 Daily Updates Alan Young

    A cool calm (wind wise) start to the day. Usual start up work completed but we lose our Manager of the Drinks Food table. Tomorrow it will be Yuri Trostenyuk an... Read more

    14 hours, 29 minutes ago by   Abichal
  • Beautiful Destination Wedding with Pastel Colors | Gemma & Sean

    Beautiful Destination Wedding with Pastel Colors Gemma Sean

    Chic Stylish Weddings Chic Stylish Weddings - The destination wedding we are sharing today is so beautiful; from the pastel colored flowers used for the... Read more

    15 hours, 35 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
  • The Humor Writing Business

    Making people laugh is no laughing matter. Someone should have told me this before I...oh, wait, a lot of people did but, as usual, I never take advice that run... Read more

    17 hours, 41 minutes ago by   C. Suresh
  • Baptism of My Babies. All of Them.

    Baptism Babies. Them.

    Today was so emotionally intense for me. Three of our seven children were baptized at the church Matt and I met in and got married in. Each one has been... Read more

    17 hours, 55 minutes ago by   Rachel Rachelhagg
  • Asparagus and Courgette Rice

    Asparagus Courgette Rice

    I wanted to cook us something quick and light today . . . fresh, and healthy. I remembered seeing this recipe in the June issue of Food to Love and I had... Read more

    17 hours, 56 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner