After repeatedly denying that he was in serious discussions with the troubled New York City Opera, George Steel, the new managing director of the Dallas Opera, has decided to return to New York.
He told the New York Times that he received “the opportunity of a lifetime” in mid-December and mulled it over at his in-laws’ house over the holidays. The NYCO board met late today for approval; Steel begins there Feb. 1.
In December, Bloomberg News released a story online that said Steel was in talks with New York City Opera for a possible position there as general manager. But Steel denied it to Art&Seek and several others outlets, including Bloomberg.
At the time, I wrote that for the NYCO, Steel would be something of a “Hail Mary” pass because Steel has never run an opera — other than this three months in Dallas — and the NYCO is in extremely serious straits, lacking a current home, its endowment down, its budget slashed.
Mr. Steel offered few details of his forthcoming tenure. “My plans are to dive headfirst into the work and solve both short-term and long-term problems at the same time,” he said. “I want to continue City Opera’s remarkable legacy in all kinds of operas,” he added, mentioning the works of Handel, Rameau, Gluck, as well as less familiar 19th-century works and world premieres. He singled out “A Quiet Place,” with music by Leonard Bernstein, and “The Flood,” a Stravinsky work originally written for television, as “germs of ideas.”
Mr. Steel said he might try his hand on the podium with a favorite work, but not until after his first season on the job.
Here’s a video from the City Opera’s Web site of Steel addressing his new audience: