In Thursday’s (11/12) Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns writes that a rejuvenated New York City Opera “opened in a much-improved State Theater last weekend with a sexy, concept-heavy production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The rabbit-out-of-the-hat success was begun in late February, weeks after George Steel was appointed general manager and artistic director amid suspicions that he knew little about running an opera company.  At the time, City Opera barely existed: It had taken the 2008-09 season off while its Lincoln Center home-base was renovated and, after the stock market crash, had gone into a financial free-fall that even Beverly Sills, who saved the company in the 1980s, would have found daunting: Roughly two-thirds ($23.5 million) of its Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest endowment was spent to maintain operations. Steel announced a short, two-production 2009 fall season—the new Don Giovanni and Hugo Weisgall’s modernistic Esther. … In many houses, Esther would have kept people away in droves. But before it even opened Friday, a fifth performance was added to meet box-office demand.”

Posted November 13, 2009