New York City Opera will return to its roots at New York City Center in March after a 48-year absence, splitting the 2012-13 season between its former home and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
After fleeing Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts last summer because of the company's deteriorated finances, City Opera used three venues this season, starting at BAM, moving on to the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College and ending up next month at El Museo del Barrio.
"We have successfully, I believe successfully implemented our new model for the company and that the New York City Opera is on firm footing," chairman Chuck Wall said.
Like this season, 2012-13 will consist of an abbreviated schedule of 16 performances of four operas. Next season includes new stagings of Thomas Ades' "Powder Her Face" (Feb. 15-23) and Britten's "The Turn of the Screw" (Feb. 24-March 2) at BAM, and Rossini's "Mose in Egitto (Moses in Egypt)" (April 14-20) and Offenbach's "La Perichole" (April 21-27) at City Center.
Built in 1923, originally called Mecca Temple and known for many years as City Center of Music and Drama, the auditorium a block south of Carnegie Hall in midtown Manhattan was home to City Opera for 1,447 performances of 108 operas, starting with Puccini's "Tosca" on Feb. 21, 1944, and ending with Lehar's "The Merry Widow" on Nov. 15, 1965.
City Opera moved to Lincoln Center's New York State Theater, opening on Feb. 22, 1966, with Alberto Ginastera's "Don Rodrigo" and playing its final performance there last May 1, Stephen Schwartz's "Seance on a Wet Afternoon."
In its last full season at Lincoln Center, City Opera presented 13 productions in 2007-08. The company then stumbled, missing a season of staged performances to have its auditorium renovated and hiring Gerard Mortier as general manager, only to watch him quit before he was to start in 2009-10.
The company said it reached agreements to use BAM and City Center as its primary theaters through the 2014-15 season.
General manager George Steel said the company's budget of about $15.3 million this season was balanced for the first time in 12 years, and next year's budget will drop to about $14.2 million. Its endowment is $4.7 million, down from $9 million last year and $55 million several years ago.
He expects sellouts for all 16 performances this season, helped by $25 tickets that were underwritten by a donor. The percentage of revenue from tickets is projected to rise from 8 percent this season to 14.5 percent. He hopes to expand seasons to eight to 10 operas in the future but has no timetable. There also is no timeframe for hiring a music director to replace George Manahan, who left a year ago.
"We will expand on sustainable basis," Steel said.
Christopher Alden will complete his cycle of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas with "Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)" in a future season. Alden is directing "Perichole" next season.
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