Has New York City Opera Found Its New Director?

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Misty watercolor memories … Photo: Courtesy of dallasopera.org

The vacancy left by Gerard Mortier at New York City Opera could soon be filled. A former executive director of NYCO, Mark Weinstein, says the embattled company will appoint George Steel, the former director of Columbia University's Miller Theater, to the position in early January. "I anticipate that George Steel will be asked to be the next general director of New York City Opera," says Weinstein, now the executive director of the Washington National Opera. But Steel denies any involvement with the company's search for a general manger. "Have I ever spoken with them?" asks Steel of his contact with NYCO board members. "Of course. Am I in negotiations with them? No."

Steel's association with the position was first mentioned on Monday by Bloomberg News, in a story Steel calls "complete nonsense." The story reported that NYCO has been in talks to hire Steel away from Dallas Opera, where he has been general manager since just October. But Steel says the story was false, and Bloomberg News posted a second story reporting Steel's denial. Asked if he would consider the job if it was offered to him, Steel said "I don't think so. I'm very happy where I am. But I love New York City Opera. And, like everyone else, I'm hoping for a great new leader for them."

According to Weinstein, though, the hiring process is under way. "I would expect an announcement shortly after the new year," he says. City Opera's chairwoman, Susan L. Baker, could not be reached for comment. Mortier backed out of his contract to become NYCO general manager on November 7, 2008, citing the company's refusal to meet his
budgetary demands.