New York City Opera's board of directors has appointed Steel to assume the role that was to have been filled by Gerard Mortier, who left City Opera prior to the beginning of his tenure due to budgetary constraints that he claimed would have hindered his intended programming. Steel is expected to assume his responsibilities as of Feb. 1. "It is an enormous honor, and an enormous responsibility, to be asked to participate in building the future of New York City Opera," Steel said in a statement. "My goal is to help 'the People's Opera' renew its indispensable mission as an important producer of early opera, a proponent of American singers and new works, a force for rediscovering vital but lesser-known works, and an originator of visionary productions of classic repertoire."
Steel is best known for serving as the executive director of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University for the past 11 years. Steel also served as the general director of the Dallas Opera and managing producer of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street YW-YMHA.
In his departure last November, Mortier took with him two of New York City Opera's promising commissions: Charles Wuorinen's opera based on the short story and subsequent Academy Award-winning film "Brokeback Mountain," as well as The Perfect American, the Philip Glass opera about the life of Walt Disney.