According to today’s Times, the Bloomberg Administration was pivotal in freezing the New York City Opera out of the cultural equation at Ground Zero.
Long unhappy with its current home at the New York State Theater, the NYCO had lobbied hard to be part of the site plan at Ground Zero. The Opera was thought to have the inside track, long before the LMDC issued an invitation to cultural institutions that eventually drew some 115 responses.
But if the NYCO moved out of Lincoln Center, the State Theater, which the city owns, would be without a tenant for the 22 weeks a year that the opera performs and rehearses there. That’s a budget hole that Bloomie would rather not have to fill.
To be sure, there were other objections to the Opera’s downtown plans, including the fact that most of the rebuilding officials simply aren’t opera fans, and therefore don’t see much merit in an opera house. But the Mayor’s influence seems to have been pivotal, especially as Governor Pataki didn’t seem to have strong feelings one way or the other.
The NYCO went so far as to hire noted architect Rafael Viñoly to design an Opera House that would fit the peculiar geometry that the Liebeskind site plan imposes. The main performance space would actually have been cantilevered over the sidewalk, with space in the building for a smaller stage, a restaurant, and even a movie theater. It was all for naught, and the NYCO now finds itself with nowhere to go. Staying where they are remains an option, but the Opera has been largely ignored in the Lincoln Center redevelopment plans, since everyone assumed they were moving.
The Times included a conceptual drawing of the Opera House we could have had. I’m sure the NYCO still hopes to erect it … somewhere.