Catherine Malfitano Talks About The New York City Opera

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Catherine Malfitano leads a protest in New york against the New York City Opera's "downsizing" and a move from its home in Lincoln Center.(Photo: UPI)
Catherine Malfitano leads a protest in New york against the New York City Opera's "downsizing" and a move from its home in Lincoln Center.(Photo: UPI)

The New York City Opera was formed in 1944 by Fiorello LaGuardia and Morton Baum to be the “people’s opera.” Innovative repertoire choices and inexpensive tickets. American opera and American artists had a home at the City Opera.

Now, after nearly 70 years, the company is declining and in danger of shutting gown. An expensive General Manager was installed who resigned before fully taking the job. The New York State Theater was closed for renovations. With very few exceptions there were no New York City Opera performances for a year. Forty years of momentum at Lincoln Center was destroyed.

Soprano Catherine Malfitano spent several years as a leading artist at the New York City Opera. She later crossed Lincoln Center Plaza to sing over 200 performances at the Metropolitan Opera and appeared worldwide, from Salzburg to San Francisco. If her career didn’t begin at the City Opera, it was certainly nurtured there.

In recent weeks Catherine has been one of many artists protesting the continued downsizing of the New York City Opera’s programming and personnel. Last May it was announced that the Company would leave its home (since 1966) at Lincoln Center and present an abbreviated season touring in City neighborhoods.

I wanted to know Catherine’s “take” on the current situation at the New York City Opera, both as a distinguished “alumna” and a world class opera professional.

Catherine’s right. Opera should be managed by opera professionals. Opera company boards should be made up of well connected individuals who know and love opera. Is that so hard?

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