The New York City Opera and New York City Ballet have finally retracted their claws and come to agreements about renovations to the New York State Theater they share at Lincoln Center. The two tenants, who alternate seasons at the center, have been bickering over issues like whether to create a center aisle (the opera was strongly in favor; the ballet, adamantly opposed) and how to adjust the acoustics (the opera believes they are in dire need of redress; the ballet thinks they’re fine) for several years. Now, the City Ballet has given up on finding a new home and a modular acoustical system that can be moved in for the opera and out for the ballet will be installed.
Both boards are now led by new chairmen: Barry S. Friedberg at the ballet and Susan L. Baker at the opera. The two met for lunch in March at Jean Georges restaurant, together with Peter Martins, City Ballet’s ballet master in chief, and Gerard Mortier, City Opera’s incoming general manager and artistic director. “That meeting set the tone between Gerard and Peter that we would try to find something that would work for both of us,” Mr. Friedberg said.
When Mr. Mortier was selected, he made a strong case for staying at the State Theater, a marked shift from the stance of his predecessor, Paul Kellogg, who had spearheaded the search for a new home.
And Lincoln Center has pushed the process along by issuing a deadline of sorts in a letter sent to the ballet and the opera this year asking for a progress report before 2008. “What we asked for was basic concepts: what do you want to accomplish?” Reynold Levy, the president of Lincoln Center, said.
Lincoln Center’s redevelopment is now in high gear, with a thorough overhaul of West 65th Street under way and scheduled to be completed by 2010.