Gotham Chamber Opera

Where opera gets intimate.

Reflecting on Gotham’s first ten years, I am filled with gratitude. That we have been able to develop an entire family of administrators, artists, and donors of such quality is extremely humbling. But it’s also astonishing. Though the company’s slogan – “Where opera gets intimate” – is entirely apt, adding the phrase “against all odds” might be even apter. What, after all, are the odds of assembling the greatest artists in opera for ten years, convincing them to contribute their talents at far below market rate, and receiving thanks for doing so, year after year? And what are the odds of assembling an ever-growing number of donors, dedicated to our mission of presenting rarely performed chamber operas from the Baroque era to the present, in spite of an economy that one could at best call challenging? And what about assembling, from among those donors, a core group of dedicated enthusiasts to function as our board, willing to give their time and energy to guide us into the future? While the odds of all of these things converging simultaneously are puny, they have indeed occurred and continue to occur.

Many years ago, Leonard Bernstein told me that the key to success is to assemble the best people and let them do their jobs. This simple-sounding piece of advice is, upon closer inspection, extremely vague. How does one define “best”? Is it like the definition of pornography (“I know it when I see it”) offered by Potter Stewart? Perhaps. Still, there are certain reliable markers, including keen intelligence, enthusiasm, self-confidence, and dedication. Happily, this list describes virtually all members of the Gotham family of administrators, artists, and donors. I have yet to encounter a Gotham devotee whom I have not wanted to get to know better, because they all exhibit these highly attractive traits.

But even with “the best people” defined, what does Bernstein’s “let them do their jobs” really mean? As anyone knows who has ever planned anything that involves a group of people, one person’s job often conflicts with another’s. No matter how well intentioned the parties, conflicts of priorities and territory ensue. How do the priorities get sorted out before real wars break out? The key for Gotham has been each individual’s dedication to the common cause and the self-confidence to suppress one’s ego in its favor.

Quality begets quality. Assembling the best artists has resulted in productions of great beauty, power, and profundity. Has anyone ever seen anything more breathtaking than Basil Twist’s production of Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco? Or been more awestruck than by Diane Paulus’s production of Haydn’s Il mondo della luna at the Hayden Planetarium, in which the entire audience was taken to the moon along with the opera’s protagonists? Or been more moved than by Eliza’s escape from oppression in Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters? At Gotham, we have been privileged to assemble people of uncommon intelligence, enthusiasm, self-confidence, and selflessness who devote themselves to our unique brand of intimate, involving, and powerful theater. Moreover, these individuals bring their friends into our orbit, and the Gotham circle grows and grows. To change metaphors, we are birds of a feather. We urge you, our Gotham family, to help us expand our flock and lead Gotham into the next decade of quality opera.

Neal Goren
Artistic Director

Back to Blog
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon