New York City Opera Musicians Blast "Egregious Mismanagement" in Wake of Bankruptcy

Stephanie Berger
City Opera's last production, Anna Nicole
Gail Kruvand was an assistant principal bass player in the New York City Opera for 22 years. "I took lots of auditions, all over the country, before I won this position, and for me it was like, wow! I really felt like I'd arrived."

She played her final show with City Opera on Saturday, a performance of Anna Nicole.

"It was really sad. We were celebrating our great times that we had together," she says of the orchestra and chorus. "This dissolution and this bankruptcy of New York City Opera is not going to take away our memories."

On Tuesday, Artistic Director George Steel announced in an email to subscribers that the company was beginning Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings after failing to raise $7 million dollars needed to keep the company afloat.

A last-ditch effort to raise $1 million on Kickstarter ended Monday after only reaching a third of that goal.

See also: New York City Opera to Declare Bankruptcy If It Can't Raise $7 Million by the End of the Day

Shortly after Steel's e-mail went out, the performers released a statement of their own through the American Federation of Musicians, blasting Steel and the rest of management for the "reckless decisions" they say landed the company in its current predicament.

The most reckless of all, Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi said, was the company's decision to leave its home at Lincoln Center in 2011. At the time, the move was expected to save the company money.

As the musicians of the New York City Opera have long feared, NYCO management's reckless decisions to move the New York City Opera out of its newly renovated home at Lincoln Center, slash the season schedule and abandon an accessible repertoire have predictably resulted in financial disaster for the company. Despite disagreement with this strategy, the devoted musicians made great sacrifices in wages and benefits to keep the Opera afloat. Lamentably, due to egregious mismanagement and a paucity of vision, instead of reaping the benefits of a strengthening economy, this most storied of cultural institutions now lies in ruin.

According to bassist Kruvand, who was also an ex-officio member of City Opera's board of directors, it cost the company a total of $4.5 million to operate out of Lincoln Center.

"For that $4.5 million they got executive office space, they got rehearsal space, they got a wig shop, they had a costume shop. They had everything under one roof--rooms for coachings of the singers and performance space and a theater."

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