Weigh in on Baltimore's operatic future
Each time I write about some aspect of Baltimore's operatic future, as I did in Sunday's paper, I can count on spirited responses. So I thought it might be useful to post an entry here by inviting your comments on how, when, even why the void left by the collapses Baltimore Opera Company should be filled.
In Sunday's article, I outlined the existing companies in town and discussed a newly formed enterprise, Baltimore Opera Theater, set to debut next season, as well as Washington National Opera's planned concert-form presentation next month. As I've written before, I'm primarily interested in seeing full-sized, quality opera in this city again. Toward that end, I confess a certain yearning for instant gratification, such as might be provided by an existing, major opera company.
All of this, of course, is open to discussion and debate. Use the comment function here to aim your wisdom or wrath at me (or each other).
I'll start the commentary by posting -- with permission -- this email I received Sunday from Jenny Kelly, whose husband, Giorgio Lalov, recently announced the launch of Baltimore Opera Theater. The couple have long been involved in touring productions of opera and ballet; their Teatro Lirico d'Europa has toured the U.S. for a decade.
Plans for their new Baltimore company call for productions at the Hippodrome and opera in concert form at the Meyerhoff. I suggested in my commentary that a little skepticism would not be unwarranted, given the economic climate and some of the goals Lalov has revealed. I also wondered if the couple can play well with others, given their propensity toward saying some rather, well, dramatic things about folks who have not been viewed as supportive of their plans and assurances. Here's the response (ellipses and punctuation are in the original):
Great article. Let me please defend my words however... When I use words like slander and assassination...I don't do so to be dramatic. I don't care a tinker's do about being dramatic! At my age in life I am not a part of this intrigue business! I just want to see my son happy and business to go well and easy! I am being very honest and totally correct by the legal standard of the word slander. Please look up the definition of slander and you will see!
There are people on the board of the Lyric who are deliberately trying to POISON the pool of potential opera benefactors here in Baltimore AGAINST US because they wish to control opera here in town and do what THEY PLEASE to do!
We are no strangers to slander! When I booked the first US tour of Teatro in the USA ... after our 10 year history of huge successes in Europe, with over 200 performances there a year ... I was able to use the hundreds of reviews we had generated and the list of CDs that we had on sale in Europe on the Italian Harmony Music label to lend credibility to what I was doing...along with a few photos that were fuzzy at best. Despite that... Columbia Artists Mgmt. was in the habit of owning the world here as far as opera tours. It enraged them that anyone would attempt to enter the market. As a result, they sent faxes and e mails all over the USA to all the venues that present opera saying that we would NEVER ARRIVE to even set foot here much less do a tour! And what happened? We came, we did that FIRST winter 2000 tour...We got RAVE reviews from the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe to name a few of the MAJOR newspapers that loved our work...and the theaters that worked with us were very happy with our service and our behavior... and now, CAMI, after years of presenting NYC Opera on tour and London City Opera, Stanislavksy Opera and the Helikon Opera as well as a Bulgarian company called Opera Verdi, CAMI has NO MORE opera tours in the USA. They are gone and we are the only opera touring company that exists now...and we have 80
performances a year...and EVERYONE IS PAID ON TIME AND IN FULL and there are no bills left behind unpaid!
When I tried to book my first ballet tour in the US... again slander and faxes and e mails all over from CAMI... but then we brought the ballet here and they were GREAT! BETTER than CAMI's ballet OF COURSE.
Why are you trying to rally people around a company that costs TOO MUCH in THIS economy when you have HONEST people who want to start a new company in a sensible way? Stop with the GRAND OPERA. Why not OPERA that honors the composer and not the ego and narcissism of some men (some good old boys) that want to present it?