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NY Times Article Re Koch Theater


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#1 abatt

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 06:24 AM

There is an article in today's NY Times regarding the newly refurbished Koch Theater, and the relationship between City Opera and NYCB. The article mentions that NYCB may waive $9 million owed by City Opera for the construction project if the opera will "give the ballet some performance weeks in the fall." This raises some interesting possibilities. I always thought it was detrimental for NYCB and ABT to have competing seasons in the Spring.

#2 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 08:59 AM

Here's the article:
http://www.nytimes.c...ref=todayspaper

#3 carbro

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 12:21 PM

The article mentions that NYCB may waive $9 million owed by City Opera for the construction project if the opera will "give the ballet some performance weeks in the fall." This raises some interesting possibilities. I always thought it was detrimental for NYCB and ABT to have competing seasons in the Spring.

Don't the extra fall weeks amount to a way for NYCB to increase its box office take to compensate for NYCO's $9 M default? It doesn't say anything about NYCB losing spring weeks.

The body language in the photo is interesting. Steel sits compactly in his seat, hands folded over his lap, each elbow resting on the armrest on either side of this seat, neatly contained. Martins, across the aisle, has his non-aisle arm draped authoritatively over the seatback beside him, a foot sticking well out into the aisle. There's more to the disparity than Martins' height. Despite the article's suggestion of amicable relations, the photo suggests a very unequal balance of power.

#4 Jack Reed

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 12:39 PM

I think what's been done to the theatre is detrimental -- some of the better seats have been removed, and I wonder how those bare, hard aisles are going to sound under peoples' feet, especially latecomers' (or early leavers'). Removing some carpet will liven the acoustics of the place, but remove it from the aisles? The new Four Seasons Center in Toronto has surprisingly lively acoustics, given the marginal sightlines, apparently in part by having no carpet (on the main floor at least) except in the aisles, where it softens footsteps and prevents slipping.

But I'm glad the 40-inch row depth has been maintained -- in my day, we had little trouble getting to the center seats from the ends of the rows, thanks to that.

So, abatt, what do you think will happen in the Spring? Will NYCB move some of its programs into a lengthened Fall season in "competition" with the Met Opera? And do you see the NYCO opposite ABT? Will that make everyone happier? (A few of us were happy running back and forth across the plaza at intermission in the Spring, but we were the exceptions!)

#5 Jack Reed

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 12:48 PM

Despite the article's suggestion of amicable relations, the photo suggests a very unequal balance of power.


Very good, carbro! I was just thinking that, far from posing side-by-side as the article says, the two were across the aisle, like opposed political parties!

#6 abatt

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:43 PM

Hmm, I had not considered the body language issue. Steel certainly has a lot to be nervous about, which may explain his body language. There are frequently reports in the press that City Opera cannot survive because its financial picture is too bleak. I had assumed that NYC Ballet, with its 8 week spring season, 8 winter season plus 5 weeks of Nuts, had already maxed-out its capacity. I don't think there is enough audience interest for adding even more weeks of performances by NYCB. That's why I assumed that there might be a swap of a few weeks of winter or spring performances for a few weeks of fall performances. While I certainly don't have any ill feelings toward City Opera, I hope that the Koch Theater has more free weeks in the future so that international ballet companies can visit us here in New York. We are now by-passed because of the lack of availability of an appropriate theater for companies like Kirov, Bolshoi and Royal Ballet in which to perform. If you want to see these major companies, you now have to go to Washington, D.C.

By the way, Jack, I too have done the shuttle between NYCB and ABT on certain evenings to catch portions of each company's performance on a single night. I thought I was the only person who was avid (nutty) enough to do that! I'm happy to hear I'm in good company.

#7 richard53dog

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 03:19 PM

Here's a link on another piece from the NYTimes Art Beat.
http://artsbeat.blog...ra-this-season/

This is some more info on the renovations at the Koch Theater, although it really pertains to the NYCO.

After years of controversy, and in light of (hopefully) some acoustical improvements, the sound enhancement system (read "amplification" ) used for City Opera performances has been done away with!

Ding , dong, the witch is dead!

#8 Helene

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 03:33 PM

My first thought was the same -- how could NYCB justify adding more performances? A seasonal switch may work, if that makes sense for the musicians, stagehands, etc. , and the union contracts can be worked out.

In a recent "Opera News" article, I think it was Patricia Racette who said that the Met was dropping it's long book-ahead dates, and was starting to schedule not so far in advance, like in Europe. A season shift might not impact NYCO, if the global trend is booking later.

I remember not only shifting between ballet performances, but also between NYCB and the Met Opera or Avery Fisher Hall.

#9 bart

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 03:57 PM

Thanks, richard53dog, for that link. It's short, so I thought it was worth posting in full.

Opera purists may be pleased to learn that the renovation of New York City Opera’s home at Lincoln Center, the David H. Koch Theater, has eliminated the amplification system for live voices installed in 1999. New York City Ballet shares the house — formerly known as the New York State Theater — with the opera, and the stage had originally been designed to muffle footfalls. The acoustical system was revamped twice before amplification was added. City Opera opens its season Nov. 5 in the renovated theater, where the changes include new acoustic side walls installed near the stage and new seats that have been tested for sound absorption.



#10 SanderO

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 06:07 PM

Everything has a political component. This one is appears to be toxic.

I would urge those who would consider attending any performance at this theater to consider the resume of the David Koch and his extreme right wing political views. I find it very troubling that Martins and the owners of the Building would accept money from someone who has aligned himself with some of the following:

"In 1984, Koch founded Citizens for a Sound Economy. Koch also funds Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group that has recently used new media technologies and other efforts to create opposition to President Barack Obama's proposed health care reforms."

"Americans for Prosperity is led by Tim Phillips, who was a former partner with Ralph Reed's Century Strategies. That organization became well-known when it was revealed in a US Senate investigation that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff was laundering money through Century Strategies and Americans for Tax Reform to oppose legislation that his Indian tribe clients wanted to defeat.[8][9] From 2003 to 2007 AFP was led by Nancy Pfotenhauer (Koch Industries' chief lobbyist from 1996 to 2001), who left to become an adviser for the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign."

"Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (CSEF). According to internal documents leaked to the Washington Post, 85 percent of CSE's 1998 revenues of CSE's $16.2 million came not from its 250,000 members, but from contributions of $250,000 and more from large corporations.

Between 1985 and 2001, CSE received $15,993,712 in 104 separate grants from twelve foundations:

* Castle Rock Foundation[citation needed]
* Earhart Foundation[citation needed]
* JM Foundation[citation needed][2]
* Koch Family Foundations (David H. Koch Foundation, Charles G. Koch Foundation, Claude R. Lambe Foundation)[citation needed]
* John M. Olin Foundation[citation needed]
* Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation[citation needed]
* Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Inc.[citation needed]
* Scaife Foundations (Scaife Family, Sarah Mellon Scaife, Carthage)[citation needed]

Other CSE funders (not included in above funding total) have included:

* Archer Daniels Midland[citation needed]
* DaimlerChrysler[citation needed]
* Enron[citation needed]
* General Electric[citation needed]
* F.M. Kirby Foundation[citation needed]
* Philip Morris[citation needed]
* US West[citation needed]
* $380,250 from ExxonMobil (1998 - 2001)[1]

#11 Quiggin

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 09:29 PM

Everything has a political component. This one is appears to be toxic.


I was originally upset about the Koch renaming, but a Marxist friend -- and a great Balanchine fan -- has said it's alright. Anyway it's better it goes to NYCB & the Opera than to a football stadium or a presidential library. In "The Recognitions" I think one of the benefactors, or someone like one, has happily confused Das Rheingold with Miss Rheingold.

#12 4mrdncr

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 10:08 PM

He (or his foundation) also support a lot of PBS programming. (Kind of odd, if he really is a right-wing conservative?)

#13 SanderO

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 03:12 AM

He really is a right wing conservative. You'll notice that giving money to anyone who has some sort of power or influence is the name of the game. If you have plenty of money you spread it around and blunt the attacks of those who oppose you. Wall Street, Pharma, Insurance etc all do it to congress critters. it works!

#14 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 04:16 AM

They all, left and right alike, also do it to achieve a favorable balance come tax time.

#15 abatt

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 08:05 AM

He really is a right wing conservative. You'll notice that giving money to anyone who has some sort of power or influence is the name of the game. If you have plenty of money you spread it around and blunt the attacks of those who oppose you. Wall Street, Pharma, Insurance etc all do it to congress critters. it works!



I'm sure that Koch's donations in the poliitical sphere have influence on the parties receiving donations. I'm not sure that's necessarily true with respect to donations to the arts. Koch (far right) and Caroline Kennedy (left/center) are both influential donors to ABT. However, I would doubt that either of them influence Kevin McKenzie regarding what ballets to present, or who to hire. With respect to Peter Martins, there is no indication that Koch has in any way influenced programming or hiring. The bigger problem w. Peter Martins is not that his decisions are influenced by big money donors, but that his decisions are clouded by nepotism.


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