New York City Opera officially calls it quits

Opera diva Beverly Sills, holds a bouquet of roses presented by the orchestra and takes her final bows as balloons and confetti fall on the stage at the New York City Opera circa Nov. 1980.
(G. Paul Burnett )

New York City Opera, the venerated institution that New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia once affectionately dubbed the “people’s opera,” has officially lowered the curtain for good.

The company announced on Tuesday morning that it has begun the process of shutting down and that it will enter bankruptcy protection. The move was widely expected after the company failed to raise $7 million in an emergency fundraising campaign launched last month.

City Opera, which has been New York’s second-largest opera company, has been experiencing financial difficulty since at least 2008, when the company slashed its operating budget, prompting Gérard Mortier to quit his future position as the company’s general and artistic director.

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The recession continued to pummel the company, which left its longtime home at Lincoln Center in 2011.

City Opera’s demise leaves only one major opera company in New York -- the Metropolitan Opera.

A local branch of the American Federation of Musicians -- the union representing the company’s instrumental musicians -- blamed City Opera’s management in a statement issued on Tuesday.

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Tino Gagliardi, president of Local 802, said that the company’s decision to move out of Lincoln Center was “reckless” and that its recent artistic and management decisions have resulted in “financial disaster for the company.”

City Opera was founded in 1943. The company’s most recent production was “Anna Nicole,” the opera about the late tabloid star that ended its run Saturday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.


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