This summer the New York Grand Opera Company completed an unprecedented project – presenting all 28 of Verdi’s operas, in the order in which they were written. The eight-year cycle was timed to end this year, the centenary of the composer’s death.
The photos on this page were taken during the company’s July 18 production of Otello in Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff, was presented two weeks later before an audience that included Elvio Ubaldi, the president of the Giuseppe Verdi Cultural Society and the mayor of Parma, Italy, and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
The New York Grand Opera, New York City’s third permanent opera company, was founded in 1973 by artistic director Vincent La Selva. Over the years, it has performed more than 50 operas in Central Park. The NYGO estimates that three million people have seen its productions, which have been presented in venues in every borough of the city, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Queens Cunningham Park, Brooklyn Marine Park, Prospect Park, Coop City in the Bronx and Snug Harbor on Staten Island.
What makes its work unique is that each of its fully-staged productions – featuring professional soloists and full chorus and orchestra, all paid at union scale – is presented free of charge to the general public. To do this, the New York Grand Opera seeks support from a wide range of sponsors, foundations and contributors. The Music Performance Trust Funds has been a supporter since the beginning.
Walter Karling photographed the July 18 concert for Allegro.