Thursday, June 23, 2011

Opera Unions Take on George Steel....And They Are Mad

"Unions representing New York City Opera singers and musicians said yesterday that they have lost confidence in artistic director and general manager George Steel. They called his plan for next season, which includes an opera featuring two mutes, 'a formula for continued failure.' At the Manhattan office of City Opera's law firm, Proskauer Rose LLP, Steel offered the union members from Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians and the American Guild of Musical Artists a page-and-a-half, 230-word 'working schedule' of four operas.  Opera 2 is a '21st-century American Opera (running time 2:50)' with two lead roles, two featured and two mute roles. It would be the only production with a full orchestra and one of two with no chorus. Defending the plan before 53 singers, production personnel and musicians, Steel said the unnamed works, to be presented in undisclosed venues, had been chosen to please donors, not the public. He said that calls for traditional operas were 'misguided,' according to a statement from the two unions. Steel, who took over the 68-year-old company in February 2009, recently announced that the troupe could no longer afford to stay in its home at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. The opera chief left the room after the about two-hour meeting. The union members then took a 'no confidence' vote, said Tino Gagliardi, president of Local 802....Until yesterday, the union hadn't publicly criticized Steel. 'It's pretty pathetic what Steel is trying to do to a main-stage opera company,' Gagliardi said. One singer, not identified in the statement from the unions, said that 'Steel should be calling this the Pot Luck Opera.'" [Source]

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