The demise of the New York City Opera is a tragedy for American composers, singers and fans of new opera.  With rare exceptions, it has been, since its founding in 1943, the only game in town for large-scale productions of major works by composers who were still breathing at the time.  From now established oldies like Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, and Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land to newer masterpieces like Mark Adano’s Little Women, John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline, the NYCO has been an invaluable platform for American-style grand opera.

The NYCO was instrumental in launching the careers of many great singers like the people’s diva,  Beverly Sills, Sherrill Milnes, Plácido Domingo, Maralin Niska, Carol Vaness,José Carreras, Shirley Verrett, Tatiana Troyanos, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano, Samuel Ramey, Lauren Flanigan and Elizabeth Futral.

Many of the happiest nights of my life I have spent sitting quietly in the dark were spent in the upper reaches of what will always be called by me the New York State Theater.   I feel like I’ve lost an old friend.

3 Responses to “The Death of the People’s Opera”
  1. Jerry Bowles says:

    My dear friend Frank J Oteri points out that John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles was a Met Opera production. I do remember that it was great and I’d love to see it again.

  2. An omission in the above list illuminates the storied history of NYCO and its philosophy: William Grant Still’s Troubled Island was premiered there in 1949. It was the very first opera written by an African-American to be staged by a major company, and that NYCO chose to perform it speaks volumes about the value of the company and the enormity of its loss.

  3. Jimmy says:

    Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land will always remain an all time best amongst my large collection of classics…..it’s so bad to see the NYCO go just like that. I strongly feel like letting a few tears…literally!!

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