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TO DO: Horror At The New York City Opera



Presented by CAKE: New Art & Performance at Chez Bushwick


What? Did you think that just because I lost, and did a final postmortem, that I was going to let this thing go?

Not on your life!

I’m here to announce that you are all invited to an awesome candlelight poetry vigil/film screening to memorialize the crushing defeat of my campaign to take over the New York City Opera.

The evening will feature:

1. Candles

2. Poetry open mic (for anyone who would like to express their grief)

3. The new aria, “I Wuz New York City Opera,” composed and performed by Ryan Tracy, featuring shout outs to George Steel, Susan Baker and good old T-Bone Tommasini! (For realz. This is not a joke.)

4. A special screening of Dario Argento’s 1987 cult classic film, “Terror At The Opera,” in which an Italian production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” becomes mired in the bloody antics of a psychopathic opera fan.

5. Fresh popcorn. (obv)

Come share an evening of sorrow and slashing, as we remember the New York City Opera that could have been, and imagine what horrors may await the New York City Opera of the future!

Saturday, January 24th
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Chez Bushwick
304 Boerum St., Buzzer #11
(Between Bogart and White)
Brooklyn, NY 11206

• L Train To Morgan Avenue •
• 2 Blocks From The Station •
Click Here For Googlemap

RSVP (Limited Seating):




So, umm…guess who totally met George Steel last night!? That’s right. Little ole me! And I didn’t even have to try.

During the intermission of the gala performance at Carnegie Hall–What? Did you think I wasn’t going to go, just because I lost? Fat chance!–L. Ro and I were wending our way down the staircase, looking for the bathrooms, when who should walk RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, but the new General Manager/Artistic Director/Superhero himself!

So I just walked right up to him and introduced myself. I can’t say that he knew exactly who I was, although he did express a kind of “oh yes” recognition, but I congratulated him on his victory and wished him well, as any respectable and vanquished challenger would have done.

Our moment was fleeting, so I didn’t have time to read him my fifteen page (single-spaced) manifesto, but the seed has definitely been planted. If we can’t take over City Opera, maybe we can at least commandeer one of the reins.

As you know, I had bought seats up in the nosebleeds–for realz, like I can barely walk today cuz my kneecaps practically exploded–but since, frankly, NOBODY WAS AT THIS SHOW (NYCO had to paper for this performance, and still ain’t nobody interested), L. Ro. and I moved down to the third ring, or whatever it’s called.

There, I was totally able to spy on everyone.

Like, how cute was it to see A. Ro., totally actually being a critic! He sat very politely, taking notes and only occasionally flipping through the program (thank god we weren’t alone). Ross is back on the nice list, btw, for giving our failed coup an honorable mention!!! (We still heart you, but, for realz, we seriously need to talk about the tritone; I mean, how many of those did we hear last night? Like a billion.)

We also spotted T. Bone, and the venerable if illusive Dan Wakin. That girl has been working overtime, btw. What with the big George Steel break, and this morning’s piece on the twilight of The Met?! WTF is going on? Oh, right, 12 months of recession and corporate thievery. Grrrr….

As for the per-for-mance… Continue reading


My Fellow Americans:

I have come to learn that New York City Opera has chosen former director of the Miller Theater, George Steel, to assume the role of General Manager and Artistic Director for the company.

While I am disappointed in the outcome, I am not devastated. I have already regrouped with friends, loved ones, supporters, and those advisors and campaign staff who have worked so diligently to help usher in an unprecedented culture of new opera in New York City: We do not intend to let this unfortunate news impede our path to creating a new paradigm for opera.

Nevertheless, after weeks of furious campaigning, my bid to become the director of the New York City Opera has come to an end.

Many of you may feel confused. Many of you may be wondering what happens now. Many of you may be crying.

Let me assure all of you that our efforts have not been in vain.

Before continuing, let me say that my goal has always been to see New York City Opera thrive and succeed. To my challenger and respected victor, George Steel, I wish you all the best (and sorry about confusing you with the professional wrestler), and I truly hope you lead New York City Opera into the future with gusto, while taking risks, promoting new opera works and fresh talent, and presenting a broad range of repertoire for a wide variety of opera lovers.

I offer you my ear, and my shoulder, should you ever need advice or confidence, or if you need ideas for developing the future of opera creatively and responsibly. I am here for you.

But to my supporters; to my fans; to my people; to those who have believed in me from the beginning, and to those who have been won over to the cause along the way; let me say this to all of you: Our time may have not come this day, but our time will come one day!

Even today, my campaign is organizing a force of directors, producers and creative artists who share my vision to stimulate a culture of new opera in New York City. Our cause is worthy. Our cause is just. And there is too much support and fearless passion behind us to set aside our dreams because one organization wouldn’t open its eyes, mind, and heart to our vision.

Our vision is a most rare vision. And we will make sure, with hard work and a little hustle, that it becomes more than a dream.

God bless the City of New York. And god bless opera.



BREAKING: The Hearts Of CC4NYCO Supporters Everywhere

La Cieca is reporting that a super secret source (aka Magic 8 Ball) has revealed that NYCO has picked on-again/off-again George Steel to lead NYCO into the sunset!

The Counter Critic will release a statement as soon as Dan Wakin’s story has gone live on the New York Times website.

M5 – Rear Balcony

carnegie-seating_chrtv_ccSo, umm, this is my seat for Thursday night’s New York City Opera gala concert performance of Barber’s Antony & Cleopatra at Carnegie Hall.

I figured if I’m going to be running the place and all, I should probably show face.

I couldn’t afford the $1,000 it takes to get into the black tie affair before the concert. I’m not against the idea of a gala fund raiser, but if I had that kind of money to drop on a dinner, I’d just flat out buy the City Opera and be done with it.

But I’m seriously excited about the concert. I’ve a growing affinity for Barber. Lauren Flannigan can be fierce and ferosh. And Teddy Tahu Rhodes is all around delish.

I suppose it might not seem professional to admit that I’m attracted to one of the performers. But come on. Like Balanchine and Robbins weren’t going gaga over all the pretty boys that came waltzing through their halls, mounted on the stage for all the upper crust to oggle and pretend they’re not totally staring at the butt cracks of all the male dancers. (At least, that’s what I do when I go to the ballet. Well it isn’t the only thing I do, but it’s definitely a major part of the experience.)

And speaking of rears…

If anyone–T. Bone, A. Ro., The Board of Directors, Mr. Kaiser, Ms. Baker, people from the cast of I Am City Opera; ANYONE–has anything you want to say to me/offer me/throw at me, you’ll know where to find me on Thursday:

Rear Balcony, seat M5.


Twilight of the Opera Houses

Amato Opera 1948-2009

RIP: Amato Opera 1948-2009

What Price A Dream?


So, after a weekend of hustling to keep my campaign moving full steam ahead, it became clear to me that I need to clarify something for some of my readers.

I have not been officially selected by New York City Opera to be a candidate for the directorship of the company.

I am running a guerrilla campaign–from the outside–to take over the directorship of the company.

I feel the need to clarify this because I have received some comments from friends, and from people new to the cause, that lead me to believe that the farcical/irreverent side of what I’m doing doesn’t always read, to everyone, the way I intend it, which is to serve as entertainment while pushing forward serious ideas and perspectives. So I’ve devised a little auto-Q&A to help nail down a few things.

1. Am I running to be the director of the New York City Opera? Yes.

2. Is it a position one normally runs for, or even applies for in a conventional sense? No.

3. Have I ever run a major performing arts institution? No.

4. Do I believe I am capable of running a major performing arts institution? Absolutely.

5. Have I tried to contact those who are in charge of finding a new director? Yes.

6. Have they returned my communications? No.

7. Am I serious about running for the directorship of the New York City Opera? Yes.

8. Do I think it’s possible for me to become the director of the New York City Opera? Hell yes.

9. Do I think it’s a long shot that I will become the director of the New York City Opera? Probably, but that won’t stop me from trying.

10. Do I sometimes use irreverent language that some might construe as unprofessional? Well yes, but that’s my schtick. That has always been my schtick on Counter Critic. And that will continute to be my schtick on Counter Critic.

11. Do I believe wholeheartedly in the ideas I have put forth for a New York City Opera recovery? Yes. As I believe wholeheartedly in all the ideas I have put forth on this website for over a year and a half.

12. Do I believe that opera needs to be reformed in order to survive and thrive in the future? Yes.

13. Do I believe we deserve to live in a culture that promotes the creation of new opera? Yes.

14. Do I believe we deserve to live in a culture that promotes young composers to create and stage new opera works? Yes.

15. Do I believe we deserve to live in a culture that provides opportunities for classically trained musicians to utilize their talents in a variety of ways? Yes!

16. Do I believe it is possible to achieve all of these things. Yes. Yes. Yes.

What I have been doing on this website has gotten us quite far. People are listening. We’re creating a new paradigm in which to discuss and create opera. This is major shit here, and I’m not going to back off if my use of irreverence and profanity makes some people instantly turn up their nose.

Anyone can discuss opera. Anyone can make opera. It isn’t precious. It isn’t, or rather, it shouldn’t be rare.

This is a revolution. And if we can make that revolution happen from the top down, then more power to all of us.

If, however, leading this revolution from the ground up is what’s necessary to make this change real, then so be it.

There will be many who do not think this is possible. Who see it as a dream; and for some, I’m sure, a bad dream.

But some people said this about my decision to move to New York, and here I am almost ten years later, and totally kicking ass.

Some people said this about my choice to be a composer, and here I am, writing music and making it happen.

Some people said this about my desire to create an opera company made up of all kinds of creative artists who would collaborate on new opera works. And here we are, almost three years later, having already had some wonderful successes, and still making new work.

And, of course, some people said this about this little old blog. And here it is, kicking and screaming, and on the verge of revolutionizing opera as we know it.

Not bad.

As my invaluable campaign manager, Michael Hart, said to me the other day: Humans are here to dream and to make things. That’s it.

That is it. And that’s what this is all about.


Open Blog Post to Michael Kaiser and Anthony Tommasini

Dear Messrs. Kaiser and Tommasini:

I know that both of you are aware of my campaign to become the director of the New York City Opera. Mr. Kaiser, I have spoken with your assistant and sent you two emails, both of which have received no reply from you. Mr. Tommasini, you replied in an email to my campaign manager, confirming that you had seen my fifteen page (single spaced) proposal for a New York City Opera recovery.

So, I guess I’m kind of wondering, like, why I haven’t been appointed yet? And why I haven’t received a media endorsement from The Times?

I’m pretty sure my proposal totally rocks. It may need some fine tuning; currently there is no mention about how to handle renegotiating union contracts, but I have someone advising me on this now. And I know that all my ideas probably, realistically (but who am I to take up the torch of realism?) cannot all be enacted immediately. I’ve also received a lot of amazing feedback from the nearly nine hundred people who have read the proposal, and have allowed these responses to shape my outlook moving forward. So while my proposal may be imperfect, it is organic, adaptable, and defining itself with each passing day: With each day that New York City Opera is left without a director.

My campaign has also picked up endorsements from L. Ro and Andy Horowitz, two prominent figures in New York’s performance culture; L. Ro as a critic and advocate; Andy as a producer and adorable teddy bear. Not to mention the thumbs-up of approval from a bunch of Counter Critic friends and readers, and a small but spunky community of peeps on Facebook. So why has the establishment of classical music reportage not recognized our grassroots groundswell?

My feeling as that neither you, Mr. Kaiser, nor you, Mr. Tommasini, is bothering to take us seriously.

If that’s the case, I mean, Wow, that hurts, you know? I’ve/we’ve put all this hard work and effort into devising a plan to save a major cultural institution, and neither of you, as leaders in the classical arts, can really care to weigh in on our ideas?

It kind of reminds me of when I gave my mom a copy of The Gospel of Thomas, Continue reading

Press Conference Wrap-Up: Lend Me Your Ears

Hey y’all.

So the CC4NYCO press conference was a huge success!


On Friday, we drew a modest but engaged crowd at the Center for Work-Life Policy at Columbus Circle (special props to Sylvia Anne Hewlett for being an amazing hostess!) to discuss our plans to restore New York City Opera to its rightful place as the presenter of affordable and forward-looking opera for the people of New York.

You can read the full text of our proposal here.

As you can see, Fox 5 News showed up!


I was inspired by the questions that came up during the Q&A, as I am inspired by the number of insightful comments that are coming in at this blog, as well as over at

For those of you who don’t know, is a virtual think tank of opera aficionados and experts, drawn together by the opera intelligence and carousing commentary of the site’s “doyenne,” La Cieca. Why NYCO doesn’t have a full-time staff position to liaise with Parterre is beyond me.

There seems naturally to be springing a groundswell of support for the cause of rescuing the New York City Opera. I am both humbled by this, and emboldened.

It isn’t that there is a shortage of creative and plausible ideas for how to save City Opera. It’s that there currently isn’t a leadership in place that know how to harness them, and turn them into creative and effective policy.

In the coming week, CC4NYCO will be planning a discussion event that will be open to the public. We encourage all readers, opera lovers, fans of NYCO, board members, creatives and vagabonds alike to come and join us to discuss the future of New York City Opera.

The drum beats. The people stir. And a New York City Opera rises from the ash!

The Counter Critic



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