Friday, July 08, 2011

Why Does New York City Need Two Opera Companies?

Over at About Last Night, Terry Teachout asks the above question. Evidently his Sightings column tomorrow will ask about NYCO's mission, or purpose. Once upon a time, it was the "people's opera," putting on lower-cost productions of popular operas, often starring up-and-coming young Americans; once upon a time, it presented repertory the Met wouldn't touch.

A couple of the answers to Terry's question are self-evident. Think of a few of the other large Western cities: London has the Royal Opera and the English National Opera; Paris has the Palais Garnier and the Opera Bastille Comique (three houses, two companies though!); Berlin has the Deutsch Oper, the Komische Oper, and the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. New York is populous enough to support two major companies.

And even with the more adventurous repertory and stagings under Peter Gelb, a big opera company willing to take on important contemporary operas - and Baroque opera - is a good thing.


Henry Holland said...

Paris has the Palais Garnier and the Opera Bastille

They're the same company, the Paris Opera, just different venues for different things. The Opéra Comique is the other big Paris opera company.

By the way, Daniel Barenboim signed a 10 year contract extension with the Staatsoper Berlin on Wednesday, he's there until 2022 (!!). They move back in to the Unter den Linden house for the 2014-15 season, so he'll be able to see the rebuilding project through.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Whoops! Thanks, Henry. I will fix that.

Emily Shore said...

It seems to me that if you're going to ask a question like that, you might as well ask why New York City needs an opera company at all. It's a slippery slope, the argument that he's presenting, and doesn't show much faith in opera as a living genre.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I agree. It's not the question I would be asking. And considering the two opera librettos he has written, he should think twice about how he puts things.

sfmike said...

I liked the first comment to Mr. Teachout's idiotic column in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal:

"Since you are asking this sort question, I will pose one: Why does New York need two baseball teams? Can anyone tell me? I thought the mission of a sports team, and the purpose for building expensive stadiums to house them, was to have winning teams that fans can root for, and that are profitable. But one of them, the New York Mets, is clearly a huge loser, both financially and professionally. Why is no one questioning their existence? Why don't the Mets just fold and go out of business since the current owners and management cannot figure out a winning strategy? Isn't that what you are advocating for the City Opera in this article? Personally, the New York City Opera has a much easier time justifying its contribution to the cultural life of New York City than the Mets do right now."