Oscar Wilde famously wrote: ‘To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’ He certainly wouldn’t be impressed by New York City, which has lost a second major opera company in the space of just two years.
Earlier this month Gotham Chamber Opera (GCO) announced it is to close immediately, with all future shows cancelled. This follows the demise of New York City Opera (NYCO) in 2013, and while attempts have been made to restart NYCO it remains defunct at the time of writing.
GCO’s sudden closure came after executive director, Edward Barnes, discovered previously undisclosed deficits. Barnes, who only joined the company on 1 July, reported these to the board, who then voted to wind-up the company.
Explaining the decision Beatrice Broadwater, president of the board of directors, said: ‘We do not have, nor do we anticipate having, sufficient donations and pledges that would enable continued operations of the company.’
Known for site-specific work and collaborating with other companies, the unravelling of GCO has come as a sudden to shock after the positive sounds made following Barnes’ appointment. It had planned to stage Alessandro Stradella’s San Giovanni Battista and new work Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, a co-commission with Opera Philadelphia, in the 2015-16 season.
‘I am proud to have founded Gotham Chamber Opera,’ said artistic director Neal Goren, who created GCO 15 years ago. ‘[It’s] been an extraordinary run, and we have been fortunate to be a part of New York City’s cultural landscape. We are grateful to all of our generous donors, collaborators and attendees, and thank them for their support.’
Meanwhile plans to resurrect NYCO have been mired in conflict, with two rival groups NYCO Renaissance and New Vision for NYC Opera battling over its legacy. NYCO has more than USD25m (€22m) in claims against it by creditors. A committee of creditors recently put its weight behind NYCO Renaissance’s bid to revive the company, renewing hope that the company could become viable again.