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Catching Up with George Steel, New York City Opera


The company's general director on why opera should be at the center of everyone's cultural lives.


Photos of La Traviata courtesy of New York City Opera

New York City Opera has had a contentious year, with union disputes and the decision to leave it's newly renovated home at Lincoln Center. This week, they opened their first opera since making that decision with Verdi's La Traviata, which is being performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Howard Gilman Opera House through Feb. 18 (all remaining tickets are an incredibly reasonable $25).

Next up is the American premiere of Rufus Wainwright's opera Prima Donna, a French opera with a lush, romantic score, which will also be presented at BAM.

We spoke with George Steel, the artistic director and general manager of NYCO, who explained the reason why the company "rescued" Wainwright's opera (it was originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera but they decided not to produce it). Why it's being performed at the BAM opera house. Steel also eloquently explains how he hopes to connect opera with a new generation of fans and should be central to people's lives.

"Opera should be the center of music, food and fun and the whole thing," Steel says. "It's a wonderfully impure, polyglot language...It's not my role to prognosticate as to what opera of the future should be, but rather to help with the apparatus of producing opera, and get out of the way of creative artists."

Watch the full interview here. And for more information about NYCO's season, and to purchase $25 tickets to the upcoming performances, visit its website.

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