Archive for the mortier Category

Ecco il Sidestep

Posted in a wandering minstrel I, mortier, nyco on December 22, 2007 by lacieca

The saga of the peripatetic New York City Opera continues. According to a story in today’s New York Times (another Saturday newsdump! Well, at least someone has figured out how the media works here in the city!) Anyway, according to this NYT story, Gérard Mortier is kicking around a few ideas for keeping the NYCO brand from vanishing from the public consciousness during the company’s “hiatus” awaiting the reconstruction of the New York State Theater (and, not so incidentally, the official beginning of his regime in the fall of 2009). The company is looking at “probably” four productions in various venues, including “possibly” Carnegie Hall, the Beacon Theater and “other Lincoln Center halls.” Oh, and don’t rule out the Apollo Theater or the Hammerstein Ballroom, either. (To tell the truth, at this point La Cieca wouldn’t be surprised if she heard “Yankee Stadium” or “Splash.”)

Well, let’s table the venue discussion for a moment and move on to repertoire. Just what sort of operas might we expect in this transitional year? Of course, nothing’s set in stone yet. Well, maybe that’s an understatement. It appears, in fact, that nothing’s even scribbled on a Post-it at the moment. In the Times interview, Mortier coyly suggests Mefistofele “because of its association with the house in performances by the bass Samuel Ramey.”

Or, on the other hand, what about Rienzi — assuming, of course, that one could count on “finding strong enough singers.” Hey, what about a children’s opera for the holidays, that might work, and, just to mix things up a bit, “a major American opera.” But here’s something you put in the bank: the repertory “must be great things,” says Mortier.

Susan L. Baker, City Opera’s chairwoman reassures us that there will be some kind of announcement about next season in January. Or, failing that, February. Count on it.

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Dark year for NYCO?

Posted in 2008, 2009, 2010, mortier, nyco, sad on December 6, 2007 by lacieca

UPDATE: La Cieca has just heard that the “dark season” is not a done deal just yet. The NYCO board meets next week to make that decision. (Given how late in the game this is, most likely the “decision” will be no more than a formality. But La Cieca will keep her ear to the ground, not to mention her shoulder to the wheel and her nose to the grindstone. She also intends to free her mind with the intention that her ass should follow.)

La Cieca has been hearing whispers and grumblings from here and there for a couple of months now, so maybe it’s time to go out on a limb and predict that the New York City Opera will take a season-long hiatus in 2008-09. Yes, that’s right, no season at all, not until the opening of Gérard Mortier‘s first year of direction in the fall of 2009.

The primary reason driving La Cieca’s gloomy prediction is the lack of any sense of what the repertoire or casting would be for 2008-09, even as 2007 draws to a close. NYCO, like other opera companies, has a fairly long lead time in planning upcoming seasons. Their practice in recent years has been to lock in repertoire and casting more than a year before the beginning of a given season.

For example, it was fairly common knowledge by the summer of 2006 that the current NYCO season would include Vanessa, Cendrillion, King Arthur and so forth; major casting was already set by then as well. Repertoire choices for Mortier’s first season leaked several months ago: 2009-10 will feature The Rake’s Progress, Einstein on the Beach, Nixon in China, Věc Makropulos, Pelléas et Mélisande, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Saint François d’Assise and Death in Venice.

No such details have surfaced about plans for 2008-09; in fact, an informant tells La Cieca that ever since early last summer “managers have been attempting to nail down the schedule and engagements for their artists, but have been met with stone cold silence from the [NYCO] administration.”

This same source continues with a little speculation that your doyenne must say she finds reasonable enough:

The official reason given [for the cancellation of the 2008-09 season] will be that Mortier wants to freshen up and fix the hall in conjunction with NYCB (and they certainly will take the time given to do some work on the State Theater, remove the sound system, etc.) but the real reason was he was so patently appalled by every performance he saw this year and last that he wants a literal fresh start for the entire company, and wants no attachment whatsoever to the past artistic administration.

Oh! che volo d’augelli

Posted in 2009, la cieca ci guarda la cieca ci vede, mortier, nyco on September 21, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca’s little bird sang true: yesterday it was announced that James Robinson will be the new Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Moving on to another story that you heard first from your doyenne, ze bad-boy of ze opéra Gérard Mortier spilled his plans for his first NYCO season yesterday. In 2009-2010 he will offer Stravinsky‘s The Rake’s Progress, Philip Glass‘s Einstein on the Beach and John Adams‘s Nixon in China. Ian Bostridge will slouch into town to headline a production of Benjamin Britten‘s Death in Venice.

Also in 2009-2010, the Park Avenue Armory and Drill Hall will serve as venue for Messiaen‘s St. Francis of Assisi. Future commissions include a new Glass opera, plus a work from Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. A full account of Mortier’s press conference may be found at The New York Sun.

Meanwhile, the intendant’s latest effort in Paris, a new production of Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, was not, as they say, taken in with pleasure. The headline for the Musical America review reads “Another Mortier Disaster at the Bastille.”

UPDATE: La Cieca just changed the headline for this article (from “Charmant oiseau”) to reflect the fact that yet another birdie has opened her little beak, spilling more details of the first year of Mortierie. Further twentieth-century works on the schedule include Vec Makropoulos, Pelléas et Mélisande, and Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, the last of which will be performed by alternating casts at City Center. (Hmm, did someone say Patti LuPone?)

You are dead, you know

Posted in filth, hacks, mortier, nyco, sad, twaddle on March 26, 2007 by lacieca

In yet another dazzling example of counter-intuitive programming, the New York City Opera has decided to exhume their quarter-century old ticky-tacky Hal Prince staging of that overexposed snoozefest Candide to replace their scuttled new production of Ragtime. (Gee, how long is it since we last heard Candide here in New York? It must be twenty minutes at least.) If La Cieca didn’t know better, she’d think Paul Kellogg was trying to bring the company crashing down (a sort of sound-enhanced Götterdämmerung) before that meanie Mortier can get his hands on it…

The good news about Mortier

Posted in mortier, nyco on March 6, 2007 by lacieca

Well, let’s say the first bit of good news associated with the Mortier appointment. La Cieca is talking about how NYCO is no longer pursuing its bratty, entitled “I SAID I want a BRAND NEW opera house or I’ll THROW all my BOWTIES on the FLOOR” attitude of the past decade or so. La Cieca frankly grew weary and then bored and finally indifferent as to what was going on “across the Plaza” because the NYCO slowly ceased to be about opera as they became so utterly fascinated by real estate.

Now, La Cieca will be one of the first to jump on the bandwagon when, as, and if NYCO starts producing such interesting must-see opera that they (as it were) earn a new theater. But it’s going to take a major force of will on the part of Mortier and the board to pull the company up even to “pretty good” standards over the first few years following 2009.

Sky scheduled to fall in 2009

Posted in critic, mortier, nyco, twaddle on March 2, 2007 by lacieca

It’s still two years before the dreaded Mortier monster is due to descend upon the city, but right-wing thinktankstress and Giuliani enabler Heather Mac Donaldisn’t wasting any time getting the hyperbole rolling. From The City Journal (“the best magazine in America” — Peggy Noonan), a sample of Mac Donald’s heady prose:

While Belgian-born Mortier’s fellow students were trashing universities and other sites of the “establishment” across Europe in 1968, Mortier was disrupting opera productions he considered too conservative, according to a New York Times magazine profile. Now he sits atop the world he once sought to overturn, exploring, as he puts it, “socio-political associations” in opera. Mortier is the musical equivalent of the academic tenured radical—Roger Kimball’s famous phrase for 1960s campus protesters who now run universities.

H-Mac goes on to invoke the usual gang of boogeymen: Peter Sellars, Calixto Bieito, Pamela Rosenberg … you know, the hate-music leftist crowd. The point that none of these three has the slightest influence in American music or theater at the moment seems to escape Ms. Mac Donald. But, after all, logic has so little place in scare tactics, does it?

Avant garde

Posted in 2009, mortier, nyco on March 1, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca hears that incoming NYCO intendant Gérard Mortier is wasting no time in putting his stamp on the company, even though his tenure is not due to begin until 2009. La Cieca’s source whispers that Mortier is sending Kevin Murphy (currently head of the music staff at Paris) to New York to replace the City Opera’s “entrenched” John Beeson. Kevin Murphy is the husband of Heidi Grant Murphy, who perhaps not coincidentally has been singing a lot in Paris lately, where reportedly she has met with something less than universal acclaim.