Thanks once more to Brian Dickie's blog for bringing my attention to debate over Gerard Mortier's recent bid to take over the Bayreuth Festival with Nike Wagner, and the scathing blog by Andrew Patner...which I must say is typical conservative American non-sense. The most important thing to know about Gerard Mortier, is that one never knows Gerard Mortier. You can't predict what we will do, and only time will tell if we will take over City Opera or not - for the sake of opera in America I certainly hope he does!
It seems that what Mortier really likes is a challenge. What could be more of a challenge than breathing life into opera in America? Well, perhaps the ONE thing would be bringing life into Bayreuth I will admit, but I think he is atleast sincere in his desire to force change at City Opera and to make a company that actually produces interesting work. Mortier's comments on the subject are convincing, particularly about Peter Gelb. Patner says some pretty ridiculous things, but one of the most ludicrous is that Mortier would not want to take over City Opera because of Gelb...as if he feels threatened by Gelb? If anything I think Mortier is turned on by the challenge of getting in the ring with Gelb. And good for him.
Personality aside, though Gelb can hold his own when it comes to "beyond self-assurred"!, Mortier has changed and continues to change the face of opera. He is passionate about contemporary opera and education. Already leaps ahead of the Met. And he widely admits the problems with a largely state funded system. If Mr Patner is suggesting that Mortier would rather produce in a bubble where he does not have to actually sell tickets, one should look at the sales of the Paris Opera under Mortier's leadership and at the decrease in average age of opera goers. Mr Mortier has just realized that creative programming CAN reach new audiences. There is no evidence that Mortier only has passion for working in the European system.
Who can say if Mortier will stay at City Opera for a full term or come at all. We should count our blessings to have him interested at all. The arts scene in American will be better off for having him.
(Incidentally there was some atrociously ugly commentator to Brian's blog! Tsk tsk! COT is one of the few companies doing interesting work...and Paterre Box is HARDLY the place for intelligent conversation!)