New York City Opera is putting the proposition to the test, at least for this weekend, as it kicks off the 2006-07 season with an expansion of last year's successful "Opera-for-All," where every ticket in the house costs $25. (Last year's three shows sold out, and, according to the company, 71 percent of the audience had never been to a City Opera event before.)
"Opera-for-All" got started last night with an evening of highlights from the upcoming season (and a party on the State Theater promenade afterwards); on tap tonight and Sunday afternoon (September 10) is Puccini's beloved La Bohme, with Bizet's Carmen tomorrow night. (Singing the titular femme fatale is mezzo Rinat Shaham, who won raves in the role at Glyndebourne a couple seasons ago.)
City Opera promises more $25 "Opera-for-All" events later in the season, with details to come down the line.
The company's regular 2006-07 season opens next Wednesday (September 13) with the New York stage premiere of Handel's Semele, featuring Elizabeth Futral in the title role, Vivica Genaux as Juno and Ino, and Robert Breault as Jupiter and Apollo. Antony Walker conducts; sets and costumes are by Anthony Baker; Stephen Lawless directs.
Director Jonathan Miller's new production of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore will be set in the southwestern U.S. during the 1950s and features sets and costumes by Isabella Bywater, making her company debut. Anna Skibinsky, in her company debut, and Georgia Jarman share the role of Adina; John Tessier and Leonardo Capalbo, in his debut, sing Nemorino; George Manahan and Gerald Steichen alternate as conductors.
Mozart's CosÐ fan tutte will get a new staging, with Julius Rudel, City Opera's general director from 1957 to 1979, returning to the podium for the first time in over 25 years. A new production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance opens the company's spring season in March. Also in March, Rossini's La donna del lago receives its first staged performance in New York since 1833, in a new production directed by Chas Rader-Shieber.
Revivals include Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die tote Stadt, Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel set in turn-of-the century New York City, Handel's Flavio, Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Verdi's La traviata.
For more information on New York City Opera's 2006-07 season, visit www.nycopera.com.