In an article in The New York Times over the weekend, incoming City Opera general and artistic director G_rard Mortier and other company officials revealed that they expect to offer four works in semi-staged productions or in concert at alternatives venues.
Those locations, according to the Times, will "possibly" include Carnegie Hall, other Lincoln Center venues and/or the Beacon Theater, an Upper West Side auditorium usually associated with rock acts and comedians. The "possibilities" for repertoire include Wagner's rarely-produced Rienzi, Boito's Mefistofele — which Mortier cited for its historic association with City Opera, where the work made a star of Samuel Ramey and before that had been a vehicle for company stalwart Norman Treigle — a holiday-season production aimed at families, and what Mortier described as a major American opera.
Whatever the repertoire turns out to be, "it must be great things," he told the paper.
The words "possibly" and "possibilities" underline a fact that worries many in New York's opera world: in a field where artistic and casting decisions are often made two years or more in advance, just before Christmas is a very late date for City Opera to have such vague plans for next season. (Major U.S. opera companies and symphony orchestras typically announce their finalized plans for the next season in January and February.)
One prominent artists' manager, John A. Anderson of Herbert Barrett Management, expressed the frustration and nervousness of many in his field when he told the Times, "I wish there would be some news. It would be a nice Christmas present for a lot of artists if they knew they had something at City Opera next season."
In addition, the company will have to pay its orchestra and chorus, whose members have union contracts for next season. City Opera chairman Susan L. Baker told the Times that, "It is our intention to take care of our guarantees. I think everybody will be fully utilized."
Asked about whether there is still time to organize and cast a program for next season, Baker told the paper, "We're working very fast."
Mortier does not actually begin his tenure at New York City Opera until the 2009-10 season. (Until then, he remains director of the Paris Opera.) But he is helping his next company plan the coming season, since City Opera has been without a general or artistic director since Paul Kellogg retired from the position this past spring.
Mortier's plans for his first season in office at City Opera, while not yet officially announced, are widely said to include productions of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Glass's Einstein on the Beach, Adams's Nixon in China, Janšcek's The Makropoulos Case, Debussy's Pell_as et M_lisande, Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny Messiaen's Saint-Fran‹ois d'Assise (staged at the Park Avenue Armory) and Britten's Death in Venice.