A few weeks ago, when Los Angeles Opera announced that they were borrowing $14 million from Los Angeles County, I suggested that perhaps part of the problem was the world-famous tenor who is at least nominally the director of the company. Someone I know expressed the opinion that with email, phones, and fax, the company could be run fine from afar.
Me, I'm not convinced. If you're conducting and singing at the Met, in Vienna, at La Scala, and generally all over Europe, you might have a few distractions. Running an opera company is a full-time job; running two opera companies is at least two full-time jobs.
Today in the WashPost, Anne Midgette nails the problems at the WNO: an absentee general director (aka the world's greatest living tenor), the lack of day-to-day leadership, and the lack of real artistic vision. Read responses to the column on her blog. (Oh, and Christina Scheppelmann? I was unimpressed with her casting choices at San Francisco during her tenure here.)
The upcoming WNO season will be a short and conservative: Un ballo in maschera, Salome, Don Pasquale, Madama Butterfly, and Iphegenie en Tauride. Of those, I've never seen Don Pasquale (but I'm not that likely to like it); I'd be curious about Deborah Voigt's performance in Salome; of course I am a big Racette fangirl and would love to see what she'll do with Iphegenie. After her Butterfly here in 2007, I don't need to see someone else's in DC, and Ballo? I'm not a fan.
Update: Daniel Wakin picks up the story in the Times.