It was reported in the NY Times this week that a single donor is giving the Metropolitan Opera 30 million dollars with no restrictions. They don't have to do a specific production or name a wing after anybody, they can just have it and do with it as they please. That's a lot of frigging dough. My first thought was 30 MILLION DOLLARS!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT CITY OPERA COULD DO WITH 30 MILLION DOLLARS?????? I can't help it, I'm an underdog supporter by nature, and I spent a few evenings of my life singing up a storm in that "other" theater that is not the Met, so my heart goes out to them when their big brother next door gets such a big donation. The scary thing about the Times article was that Peter Gelb said "it's not enough to save us" because the Met is having big financial problems. I thought YIKES when I read that - if the Met is having such financial problems that a sum like that doesn't put a dent in things, we should all be worried about where things are headed.
I've been thinking about what I would do if I had 30 million dollars to burn. I would certainly want to support some arts organizations, so kudos to the donor for putting her money where her mouth is. But what about starting a new, smaller opera company somewhere in or around New York City? Or putting the money into re-opening one of the struggling opera companies that had to close in the last couple of years because of the economic downturn - like Opera Pacific or Baltimore Opera? Or creating a new arts organization in a community in the U.S. that has none? Or - and this is a big passion for me - starting a huge educational program to get more arts in the schools - that's our future audience, and the only way we can hope to have arts in this country continue to thrive!
Or taking the money and retiring in Tahiti? These are all very valid possibilities.
But the funny thing is, I don't think I would stop singing. They always say that if you won a huge amount of money in the lottery and you would still keep your job, you must be doing the right job. So I guess I'm okay for now. But one day I would LOVE to RUN an opera company, and a huge windfall wouldn't hurt my chances. So universe, if you're listening; please send me 30 million dollars. I promise not to spend it all in once place.
I'm not sure the world needs more opera companies. It just needs more well-run opera companies. That said, I would really like to see a company form for the exclusive purpose of showcasing new work - without the need to program "chestnuts..."
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