Wednesday, February 27, 2013

listen up SPAC: attendance down in Metropolitan Opera causes prices to be reduced. SPAC raises prices and lowers member benefits and decimates New York City Ballet residency.

just a bit more than 80 percent full.
Published: February 27, 2013
Attendance is down this season at the Metropolitan Opera, and officials there acknowledge that the fault is their own. They made going to the opera too expensive.
So in a rarity in the rarefied world of the performing arts, the Met said it would reduce ticket prices next season. The average cost of admission will drop by 10 percent, or to $156 from $174, Peter Gelb, the general manager, said in a recent interview.
The lower ticket prices will come in a 2013-14 season that includes the return of the music director James Levine to the pit after a two-year absence; an unusual appearance by a female conductor, Jane Glover; and, surprisingly, the first time Anna Netrebko, the Russian diva, will tackle one of the most famous Russian roles at the Met.
Experiencing those moments will still not be cheap, but the new ticket pricing will ease sticker shock. For example, an orchestra aisle seat that is $360 this season will be $330, and a grand tier box seat will go to $180 from $195. In all, more than 2,000 seats for each performance will cost less, the Met said. One exception will be the $20 seats in the rear of the family circle, which will rise by $5. The Met will continue its rush-ticket and free open-rehearsal programs.
"We think that is going to increase attendance," Mr. Gelb said of the price cuts, noting that more ticket sales would compensate for any lost revenue because of lower prices. "At least it better," he added.
Mr. Gelb said prices this year were "raised dramatically," by about 10 percent. "We did not feel it was as successful as it might have been," he said of the increase.
He also blamed falling attendance on a "cannibalization" of the audience by the Met's high-definition movie theater broadcasts. Attendance this season is projected to be, on average, 81 percent of capacity, compared with 84 percent last season. Ticket revenue is projected to be $4 million less than last season's $94.4 million; canceled performances caused by Hurricane Sandy are responsible for half that shortfall, with the rest attributed to a donor's reduced support for rush tickets.
The Met also released details of next year's program. It includes six productions new to the house, among them Borodin's "Prince Igor," which was last heard at the Met in 1917 and is famous for its Polovtsian Dances; Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," starring Ms. Netrebko as Tatiana, her first Russian role at the house since her debut there in Prokofiev's "War and Peace" in 2002; an English-language "Die Fledermaus," with freshly written lyrics by Jeremy Sams; and Massenet's "Werther," with Jonas Kaufmann in the title role.
Deborah Warner will direct "Onegin" in her Met debut. The cast includes Mariusz Kwiecien and Piotr Beczala, Met regulars. Marina Poplavskaya will take over for Ms. Netrebko later in the run. Valery Gergiev, who used to hold the title of principal guest conductor at the Met, will conduct. He last appeared there in the 2010-11 season. The first performance will be the opening-night gala on Sept. 23.
Dmitri Tcherniakov will also direct his first opera at the Met with "Prince Igor." The production, Mr. Gelb said, would strip away the usual medieval pageantry and send Igor on a "psychological journey."
"Die Fledermaus" will open on New Year's Eve, a return to an opera world tradition. Mr. Sams, who also wrote the text for the Met's Baroque pastiche opera "The Enchanted Island," will direct "Die Fledermaus." His lyrics will follow the story but will be written from scratch; Douglas Carter Beane, a Broadway playwright, has written the dialogue.
"It's an operetta," Mr. Gelb said. "You can take liberties. You wouldn't do it with Wagner."
The Met's abbreviated English-language holiday production of "The Magic Flute" has been entrusted to Ms. Glover, who a Met spokesman said would be only the third woman to conduct a Met opera, and the first since 1998, when Simone Young led Offenbach's "Contes d'Hoffmann." The first female conductor at the Met, Sarah Caldwell, made her debut with Verdi's "Traviata" in 1976.
As previously announced, next season's premieres  will include Nico Muhly's opera "Two Boys," a Met commission about duplicity and identity on the Internet. The opera has been "fleshed out," Mr. Gelb said, since its run at the English National Opera in 2011.
The other new production is the first of Verdi's "Falstaff" since Franco Zeffirelli's oft-revived 1964 version. Directed by Robert Carsen, it will be the first of the three operas led next season by Mr. Levine, who has not conducted at the Met since May 2011 because of health problems. His first foray before an orchestra comes on May 19, when he leads the Met musicians in a concert at Carnegie Hall.
Mr. Levine is also conducting revivals of Mozart's "Così Fan Tutte" and Berg's "Wozzeck," with two veteran stars taking on the main roles in "Wozzeck" for the first time: Deborah Voigt and Thomas Hampson.
Mr. Levine, who announced his comeback in October, has been recuperating from damage to his spinal cord and from back surgery and is beginning to walk again, he said, "laboriously and slowly."
"I'm just always doing better," he said in an interview. "I'm making progress in the therapy all the time. The nerve return in this kind of thing is slow."
Mr. Levine said he expected that the very act of conducting an orchestra would help him get better.
"I came from having no idea when or if I'd be going back to work, and now I'm able to do this," he added. "The time is nearly here."


Sunday, February 17, 2013

spac announces program for new york city ballet 2013 and not a word about 2014.

New York City Ballet pulls a rabbit out of its hat for jam-packed shortened season at SPAC

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — New York City Ballet, one of the world’s foremost dance companies, will present a dazzling, diverse repertory of 15 stunning ballets during its summer season at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) July 9 through 13.

Highlights of its engagement include Balanchine masterpieces “Serenade” and “Theme and Variations,” a special gala program featuring the Saratoga premieres of Peter Martins’ “Bal de Couture” and Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux “This Bitter Earth,” and three performances of Justin Peck’s “Year of the Rabbit,” which also makes its Saratoga debut.

“New York City Ballet brings to its summer stage at SPAC, a world-class program of astonishing breadth and brilliance. From iconic Balanchine gems like “Serenade” and “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” to favorite works by Jerome Robbins including “West Side Story Suite” and “Dances at a Gathering” to exciting new ballets by Peter Martins, Christopher Wheeldon and Justin Peck, the interplay of tradition and innovation in this season is exceptional,” said Marcia J. White, president and executive director of Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “Each and every program is a standout and guaranteed to offer an unforgettable experience for our guests.”

Tschaikovsky Celebration

Major features of the summer program include highlights of NYCB’s “Tschaikovsky Celebration,” a centerpiece of its winter season at Lincoln Center. Five of the season’s 15 ballets feature the music of the great Russian composer Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky. Legendary choreographer George Balanchine had a special affinity for Tschaikovsky. He once told an interviewer, “In everything that I did to Tschaikovsky’s music, I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tschaikovsky who had helped me.”

The Opening Night program will feature three Balanchine ballets set to Tschaikovsky’s music including the virtuosic Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux; the classical tour de force “Theme and Variations”; and the “Garland Dance,” Balanchine’s 1981 interpretation of the famous dance from “The Sleeping Beauty,” the first ballet the legendary choreographer danced in as a child in Russia. The “Garland Dance,” which features a large cast, including 16 children, has never been seen at SPAC as an excerpted work.

Also presented will be the iconic, four-movement “Serenade,” one of Balanchine’s most widely danced and beloved works. The first ballet Balanchine choreographed in America, it originated as a lesson in stage technique; Balanchine worked unexpected rehearsal events into the choreography such as a student’s fall or late arrival to rehearsal. The ballet, set to Tschaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings,” features 26 dancers in blue costumes before a blue background.

The Ruby Ball: |Ballet Gala

The music of Tschaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” is the score for Peter Martins’ newest ballet, “Bal de Couture,” which will have its Saratoga Premiere and one-time-only performance at the July 13 Ballet Gala, one of two premieres that highlight the special evening. The ballet features striking costumes created by legendary fashion designer and master couturier, Valentino Garavani, often known simply as Valentino.

Also featuring an original Valentino costume design is Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux “This Bitter Earth” which will have its Saratoga premiere at the Gala. Set to Max Richter’s remake of Dinah Washington’s 1960 rhythm & blues song of the same name, the work is excerpted from Wheeldon’s “Five Movements, Three Repeats.” Continued...

Complementing Bal de Couture’s “Valentino Red” costumes and inspiring the evening’s theme, the gala program also features Balanchine’s brilliant “Rubies,” the second section of the full-length “Jewels.” Set to Stravinsky’s “Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra,” the work features Karinska’s famous, red jeweled costumes.

The evening culminates with “West Side Story Suite,” Jerome Robbins’ suite of dances taken from the award winning musical he created with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. One of the few ballets that requires dancers to sing as well as dance, the work features several song and dance sequences including “Something’s Coming,” “Dance at the Gym,” “Cool,” “America” “and “Somewhere.”

Repertory Highlights The season will feature the Saratoga Premiere of Justin Peck’s recent work for New York City Ballet, “Year of The Rabbit.” The work is featured on the July 9 opening night, July 10 and the July 13

matinee program. Peck’s first work for NYCB, “In Creases,” had its world premiere at SPAC’s ballet gala last season.

Set to indie-folk composer Sufjan Stevens’ “Enjoy Your Rabbit,” an electronica album and song cycle based on the Chinese zodiac, the work for 18 dancers is an elaboration of Peck’s 2010 work, “Tales of a Chinese Zodiac.”

For the new ballet, Stevens and Peck collaborated on all aspects of the production, including a new orchestration of “Enjoy Your Rabbit,” created specifically for the ballet.

The work debuted on Oct. 5, 2012 in New York to wide critical acclaim.

Peck, a member of NYCB’s corps de ballet since 2007, has been recognized for his choreographic promise since his debut as a choreographer in 2009, earning favorable notices from the New York Times, Dance Magazine and Vanity Fair among others. He earned a Bessie Award nomination in 2011 in the “Outstanding Emerging Choreographer,” category.

Other repertory highlights of the season include a July 11 evening of “20th Century Violin Concertos” featuring Peter Martins’ “Barber Violin Concerto,” which explores the contrast between classical and modern dance; Robbins’ ethereal, introspective “Opus 19 /The Dreamer” and Balanchine’s “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” a signature “black and white” ballet and a work widely considered one of the choreographer’s greatest.

Neoclassical simplicity and symmetry also narrate a July 12 program of chamber works that includes Peter Martins’ spare and elegant “Hallelujah Junction,” set to a pulsing John Adams score and featuring two onstage pianists; Christopher Wheeldon’s poignant “After The Rain” pas de deux, created in 2005 for retiring NYCB principal Jock Soto, and set to a score by Arvo Part; and Jerome Robbins’ uplifting “Dances At A Gathering,” a work for 10 dancers set to 18 piano pieces by Chopin. Continued...

“In conjunction with this spectacular program, audiences can look forward to the return of our popular series of pre-shows, including American Girl Night, Family Night, Date Night and Girls Night Out, as well as engaging educational programs such as New York City Ballet’s ‘See the Music’ and children’s workshops led by NYCB dancers,” White said. “An evening at SPAC offers limitless opportunities to learn, interact and enjoy; it’s a live arts experience at its best.”

Online ticket sales for New York City Ballet’s Saratoga season begin March 18 at

Ticket prices for inside seating range from $30 to $80; lawn seating is $24.

Located in the Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs, NY, SPAC has been the summer home of New York City Ballet since 1966.

Just three hours from Boston and New York, SPAC’s 2013 programming also includes the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, the National Ballet of Canada, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, MOMIX, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, Cabaret Series, Opera Saratoga, Live Nation concerts and the Saratoga Wine & Food and Fall Ferrari Festival.

Pre-performance talks

Presented in conjunction with its classical season, SPAC’s Pre-Performance Talks series features world-class musicians, dancers, conductors, composers and scholars sharing insights and perspectives with small groups prior to classical performances. Created to enhance SPAC’s educational mission, the talks, unless otherwise noted, will be at 7 p.m. before the performances in the intimate setting of the Hall of Springs Gold Room. Admission to the talks is $5 and open only to people who have a ticket to the evening’s performance. Tickets are available at or at the box office.

The schedule is:

Tuesday, July 9, 7 p.m., Opening Night, TBA Continued...

Wednesday, July 10, 7 p.m., Justin Peck, choreographer and dancer, New York City Ballet

Thursday, July 11, 1 p.m. Deborah Jowitt, dance critic, scholar and author of “Jerome Robbins, His Life, His Theater, His Dance” (2004)

Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m., Deborah Jowitt

Friday, July 12, 7 p.m., conversation with a New York City Ballet dancer

Saturday, July 13, 1 p.m., Mindy Aloff, professor of dance, Barnard College; author, “Hippo in a Tutu” (2009), “Dance Anecdotes” (2006); consultant, The George Balanchine Foundation.

Saturday, July 13, gala, no pre-performance talk

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