No Butterflys or Bohmes: G_rard Mortier Talks About Plans for His First Season at New York City Opera

Classic Arts News   No Butterflys or Bohmes: G_rard Mortier Talks About Plans for His First Season at New York City Opera
Gerard Mortier, the incoming general manager of New York City Opera, has told The New York Times that his plans include a focus on 20th-century works by composers such as Bart‹k and Janšcek, the kind "where you need to convince people" to attend.

The 64-year-old Belgian-born opera director and administrator, whose appointment to succeed Paul Kellogg was announced in February, told the paper that the 2009-10 season (the first of his tenure) will open with a new staging of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress.

For his first season at City Opera, Mortier will cut the number of productions from the current 13 down to eight, all of which will be new. City Opera will also change to the stagione system, presenting one opera at a time (as is common in parts of Europe and at smaller U.S. companies), from the current repertory system, which offers a variety of shows throughout the week (as is done at such large and busy companies as the Met, the Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden, the Paris Opera and the houses in Munich and Berlin).

Other plans include a production at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue (possibly Messiaen's St-Fran‹ois d'Assise) and a small-scale work at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, according to the Times.

Mortier also said he plans to cooperate with Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. Gelb told the Times that it would make sense "for us not to be stepping on each other's toes artistically," but that "There's no formal Versailles treaty. I did not take Mozart and give him Verdi."

Mortier, currently director of the Op_ra national de Paris, admitted that he was concerned about the fundraising aspects of his new job and with the shortcomings (mostly acoustical) of the New York State Theater as an opera showcase. He hopes, writes the Times, to locate additional rehearsal space and to enlarge the pit, among other measures, which his plans to enlarge the company's budget from $40 million to $60 million would allow him to do.

The paper adds that Mortier is trying to soften his "bad boy" image, acquired by the provocative productions he has presented in Paris, at the Salzburg Festival and elsewhere, as well as by the occasional rhetorical cherry bomb he has tossed.

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