A Night at the Uproar: George Steel Weathers Coup Attempt!

It’s been a tumultuous few years at the New York City Opera. It has been continually plagued by financial troubles, and leadership of the organization has been haphazard since Paul Kellogg announced he was planning to leave the position of general and artistic director in 2005. Controversy dogged the short tenure of French impresario Gerard Mortier.

Now, just as the “upstart” opera company (that’s in opera terms; they’ve been around for decades) prepares to mount its 2009-2010 season under fast-working George Steel, comes word that he has already weathered his first coup attempt.

A source with knowledge of the discussions told Observer opera critic Zachary Woolfe that a group of former City Opera board members tried to form a coalition to oust key members of the current City Opera board, and had recruited Joe Volpe, former head of the Metropolitan Opera, as their standard-bearer. Getting the powerful seats on the board meant raising a lot of money—very quietly.

It seems the group failed, and so Mr. Steel has the continued endorsement of the board, chaired by former financier Susan Baker.

Read more about the crisis at City Opera, and its season featuring Weisgall’s avant-gardeish Esther, in the Culture section on p. 39.

A Night at the Uproar: George Steel Weathers Coup Attempt!