The tenacious George Steel took over at the New York City Opera in 2009, and opera in New York is stronger for it. Mr. Steel inherited a terrible economy and labor agreements that practically guaranteed the Opera would lose money. Even after record fund-raising efforts, the Opera faced a problem: the more ambitious its program, the more money it would lose. The only way to keep the doors open was to close the doors. To keep the Opera at full pitch, Mr. Steel pushed forward: he incurred the wrath of the creative community when he pulled the company from Lincoln Center, and he made a slew of enemies seeking labor concessions.
Thanks to Mr. Steel, though, the New York City Opera’s future looks bright. He has brought the shows to new audiences at new venues like the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the New York City Center. He has struck a deal with the unions, and has cut costs substantially. Opera in New York is in good health.