The New York City Opera has now (with little surprise) been affected by the nation’s economic calamities and plans to take on a leaner, hungrier look; a look that’s all the rage these days. Its 2009-10 season will be scaled back to only five to seven productions and any new stagings are very unlikely. Even though City Opera Chairwoman Susan Baker said that the offerings would be “wide-ranging,” newer productions originally programmed by Gerard Mortier (former NYCO director) will be scrapped by his replacement George Steel.

Current operas in the company’s repertoire will be performed at its Lincoln Center home while Mortier’s productions will be performed at other venues throughout New York City. Baker thinks that it would’ve been “grand” to have at least one new production but “given the financial exigencies we’re all facing and the time pressures involved in putting together ’09-10, it is conceivable we won’t manage it.”

The NYCO’s difficulties were intensified when a scheduled tour to Japan was canceled after the Japanese securities firm sponsoring the engagement backed out, resulting in a $7 million to $10 million operating loss. Also contributing to the company’s chord of financially descending arpeggios is the current reconstruction underway at Lincoln Center, which had closed the New York State Theatre (the NYCO’s house) and limited their 2008-09 season to a handful of performances.

Baker predicted that the NYCO’s schedule will expand only slightly for the 2010-11 season. However, the good old days of 16 productions and 116 performances of the early 2000s are, in all likelihood, finished.


UPDATE–To rub more salt in the wound:

April 29 (Bloomberg) — A strike may cripple the New York City Opera later this year if its new general manager and artistic director, George Steel, seeks extensive concessions, said the union representing opera singers, stage directors and other production staffers.