New York City Opera will close after failed fundraising efforts

new york city opera close
Fundraising attempts unsuccessful, the New York City Opera announced Tuesday it would begin the process of dissolving itself and filing for bankruptcy.
Credit: Stephanie Berger

Fundraising attempts unsuccessful, the New York City Opera’s curtains will close for good.

The 70-year-old company announced Tuesday morning it would begin the process of dissolving itself and filing for bankruptcy.

“New York City Opera did not achieve the goal of its emergency appeal,” Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a statement. “Today, the board and management will begin the necessary financial and operational steps to wind down the Company, including initiating the Chapter 11 process.”

Last month, the opera launched a last-ditch effort to raise $7 million necessary for the current season to continue. The company needed an additional $13 million by the end of the year for future seasons.

In September, City Opera focused its efforts on large donors, raising at least $2 million by Sunday night.

Once called “the people’s opera” by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the company also reached out for smaller donations through a Kickstarter campaign, but only raised $300,000 from just over 2,100 backers.

Tino Gagliardi, the president of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the orchestra, blamed the closure on “reckless” management decisions, including the opera’s move from Lincoln Center in 2011.

“Lamentably, due to egregious mismanagement and a paucity of vision, instead of reaping the benefits of a strengthening economy, this most storied of cultural institutions now lies in ruin,” Gagliardi said in a statement.

Amid the final fundraising efforts Sunday, George Steel, the opera’s general manager and artistic director, said he was concerned about the artists working with the opera.

“We’re thinking about the effect it would have on the art form. It’s one of of the most important launching pads for American singers,” Steel said.

The opera’s final production, a biopic about Anna Nicole Smith presented with BAM, had its last show on Saturday.

“There are pieces that we show that would never appear anywhere else in the city,” Steel said. “It’s a vital part of global artistic life.”

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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