Placido Domingo: New York City Opera demise would be a ‘tragedy’
When renowned tenor Plácido Domingo was still a relatively unknown singer from Spain, he made his Los Angeles-area debut at the Music Center in 1967 in a touring series by the New York City Opera. His local debut included performances in “Don Rodrigo,” “La Traviata” and “Madama Butterfly.”
“My early performances with New York City Opera were what really kicked off my international career, and I look back on those days with enormous pride,” Domingo said in a recent statement sent to The Times.
New York’s second largest opera company currently faces imminent bankruptcy as an emergency fundraising campaign to raise $7 million by the end of September has fallen significantly short of its goal. The company is expected to declare bankruptcy early this week, cutting short its 2013-14 season.
The expected closure of City Opera -- whether it be temporary or permanent -- is seen as a major blow to New York’s cultural community. Earlier this month the company launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 million toward its $7 million goal.
But the online campaign has brought in less than $300,000 in pledges as of Monday.
City Opera, which was formerly located at Lincoln Center, has faced serious financial problems for the past several years and has recently presented scaled-back seasons at venues around New York.
During its heyday it nurtured the early careers of such notable singers as Domingo and the late Beverly Sills.
“It would be an absolute tragedy for that legacy to come to an end,” said Domingo, in statements sent by his spokeswoman. The tenor is currently conducting performances of Bizet’s “Carmen” at Los Angeles Opera, where he is general director.
Here are Domingo’s full statements about City Opera:
“I have strong personal feelings about New York City Opera. I had my first really important New York engagements with City Opera in the mid-1960s, I sang the U.S. premiere of Ginastera’s ‘Don Rodrigo’ there, and I even toured with City Opera -- in fact I made my debut in Los Angeles, which has played such an important part in my life, with City Opera, before LA had a major company of its own. And I am only one among many, many singers who have had essential early training and encouragement with this company over the 70 years of its existence.
“I think it’s terrible that a city as big and as wealthy as New York can’t support a second major opera company – one that is able to take risks with repertoire, engage relatively inexperienced singers, and make other experiments in a way that a huge ensemble like the Met simply can’t do. This is the role that it has filled in the past and it would be a shame if it can’t continue to fill it in the future...
“My early performances with New York City Opera were what really kicked off my international career, and I look back on those days with enormous pride. The company has done incredible work for so many decades, and it has played an essential role in New York’s cultural scene for millions of opera lovers. It would be an absolute tragedy for that legacy to come to an end. Ironically, the name of City Opera’s home in Lincoln Center was the New York State Theater. Perhaps for the company to survive and thrive in future seasons, it should try to expand their range, perform not only in theaters around New York City, but also traveling around the state to cities like Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.”
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