14 January 2009

Plebeian opera

Opera lovers hope Mr. (George R.) Steel’s arrival (as general manager and artistic director) will quell the turbulent plotlines at what many consider the nation’s second most important house. Founded in 1943, with help from Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, as the “people’s opera,” City Opera has the mission of offering accessible, affordable, innovative productions hospitable to young American singers.
I'd like to know who the "many" are who consider the City Opera as the nation's second most important opera house. But more than that, the notion that the City Opera is the "people's opera" (vs. the Met) is now myth. For instance, I considered attending the City Opera's concert performance of Antony and Cleopatra, but was discouraged by the price of the minimally acceptable seats at Carnegie Hall. I absolutely hate the acoustic quality of the rear balcony ($25), and can barely suffer the front balcony ($55, cf. the Met's comfy side box seats at $16.50). Are they kidding? I would need some of them TARP funds to do this one.