George Steel, the new general director of the Dallas Opera, has been the buzz of opera circles the past several days because of heated rumors that he would abandon the DO — after only four months here — and return to New York to take over the highly troubled New York City Opera.
These rumors were given more validity with a Bloomberg News online report Monday. But Steel’s friend-turned-temporary-spokeswoman Aleba Gartner denied that any such negotiations had happened, were happening or would happen: Steel was happy in Dallas.
In a phone call to Art&Seek Tuesday, Steel himself confirmed his commitment to the Dallas Opera. “What do they mean, I’m in talks with them [NYCO officials]? I expressly said I am not in talks with them. … I said, yes, I do know some of the board members. I’m in New York now conducting a concert on a series produced by one of them. ‘Have you talked about the opera [with them]’? Of course, I’ve talked about the opera. Have I talked about my taking a job at the opera? No. Am I in talks with them? No. Have I had official meetings with them? No. Is there an offer on the table? No. If offered, would I take it? No.”
That would seem to be categorical. I think he’s serious. But then, boom, comes this New York magazine Vulture report in which NYCO’s former executive director practically announces Steel’s appointment.
Steel did say that the questions and phone calls were flying so furiously that a New York Times reporter “hunted me down” at his Works & Press concert at the Guggenheim Tuesday evening.
“He literally cornered me. So he may or may not run something in the Times tomorrow,’ Steel said. “And New York magazine is running a piece, the same story, ‘No, this is not true.'”