Gerard Mortier’s departure from New York City Opera has left the company with stillborn plans and heavy obligations. While Mortier is trying to figure out how to mount his commissioned Brokeback Mountain opera (“He has repeatedly voiced his determination to get this done,” says the composer Charles Wuorinen—but Wuorinen’s contract is with City Opera, not with Mortier), the opera company totters. Even as the board of directors has brought in Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser to stabilize operations, the American Guild of Musical Artists plans to pursue arbitration over more than 80 performers’ contracts scrapped after Mortier’s exit. “While we recognize NYCO’s problems, our primary obligation to our members is to make certain that they are paid,” says guild chief Alan Gordon, who estimates the contracts are worth about $1 million. A former City Opera exec says the company may even be forced to file for bankruptcy. But an Opera rep disputes that: “Bankruptcy is not among the options being considered at the moment,” he says.
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