New York City Opera Closing Saddens, But THE GREAT GATSBY Continues at the Roxy

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on November 15, 2013

The New York City Opera has closed.

It had shared the same theatre as George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, after leaving its original home of City Center to move uptown a few blocks to what was then the new Lincoln Center.

After 75 years it closed, selling off entire productions and later piecemeal (as in an operatic yard sale), Mimi’s dress and hat from La Boheme, Mario’s paint smock and palette from Tosca. Was there no Martha Ingram to pull that fat out of the fire? The arts hold a tentative place in this great society … yet they are what make this society great.

My friend Ted Jones performed for the New York City Opera, while I am an alumnus of the old Met.

I remember a night when La Traviata was playing at City Opera and, right across the Lincoln Center Plaza, La Traviata was playing at the Metropolitan as well. Does one ever need two Traviatas? Yes — ten please. And double up on the overtures.

City Opera tickets were far less expensive than the Met’s, but they had Beverly Sills and Julius Rudel and produced productions few opera houses could offer. Yes, some of the productions could be hit or miss, but that’s true everywhere — the human condition, life and all things being equal.

Even with the best intentions, things can go wrong. Spamalot was not, for us, a box office hit. I think audiences expected Camelot, which they either liked and didn’t want to see spoofed (which Spamalot didn’t do); or they didn’t like and, thinking Spamalot was another Camelot (which it wasn’t), didn’t want to see it again. Or they simply feared that it might be a kind of humor which they wouldn’t understand.

There is nothing better than receiving a thank-you note, unless it is the reason for writing one. Even with so much red velvet in view, we received a thank-you note from patron Bridget Reilly: “Thank you for an absolutely wonderful time at the Roxy Regional Theatre. My family of four and my friend and her daughter came to see Spamalot on September 20th and October 16th. Both times were delightful and hilarious. The cast was wonderful, just perfect. Everything unseen to the audience that supports a theatre production had to have been perfect, too, in order to make the evenings so enjoyable.”

The Great Gatsby is doing well. Yellow buses clog Franklin and First, and young people who may be lost in reading the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic can see it just as he wrote it, with no confusing embroidery of the text.

Produced by Clif and Melissa Sites of Sites Vision Clinic and featuring Michael Spaziani, Michelle Foletta, Patrick Roberts, Eli Jolley, Jacque Clydesdale, Ashley Harris, Jake Jessup, Jay Doolittle, Leslie Greene, Humberto Figueroa and Janet Mund, The Great Gatsby continues tonight at 8pm, with performances tomorrow at 2pm and 8pm. Next Friday and Saturday are your final two chances to catch Simon Levy’s breathtaking adaptation.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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