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New York City Opera sings the blues over finances, faces possible bankruptcy

By Rande Iaboni, CNN
updated 6:27 PM EDT, Fri September 27, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "The People's Opera" was founded on the idea that every New Yorker should have access
  • For the company to break even, all tickets would have to cost $600 each
  • Instead, the starting price is $25
  • "We need the help of the people we were founded to serve," says an opera official

New York (CNN) -- The New York City Opera needs $7 million in fundraising by Monday or it could be closing its curtains for good.

On top of that money, the opera company wants to raise an additional $13 million by the end of 2013 towards future seasons, according to a press release.

"If we don't raise the ($7 million) by the end of Monday the board is going to begin the process of bankruptcy," spokesperson Risa Heller told CNN on Friday.

The company started a campaign to raise $1 million of that $7 million through an online fundraising site -- Kickstarter.com -- that will end September 30. As of Friday the online campaign had raised only $202,223 donated from more than a thousand supporters.

The organization raised $1.5 million outside of Kickstarter campaign, according to Heller.

"The odds have been against us for a long time," George Steel, general manager & artistic director for the company, said in an online video, "but in the face of that difficulty we have made tremendous progress."

The company, dubbed "The People's Opera" by former NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, was founded on the principle that every New Yorker should be able to afford to go to the opera, Steel said.

Steel explains that in order for the company to break even, it would need to sell every ticket for $600, but instead the starting ticket price is actually $25 to make it more affordable.

The New York City Opera received critical praise in the past for its world premieres of work including Robert Ward's "The Crucible" and Anthony Davis' "The Life and Times of Malcolm X."

The company opened its current season on September 17 with the opera "Anna Nicole," and should it fail to raise the necessary funds by Monday, that could be the Company's last production.

"We need the help of the people we were founded to serve to put on our season this year," Steel said, speaking to New York residents and opera fans everywhere. "We need you to come together and carry it forward into the future. I hope we can count on you."

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the New York City Opera, which opened in 1943, making it the second opera house in NYC. The Metropolitan Opera was founded over 60 years earlier, in 1880.

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