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Ryan Speedo Green to play free harlem Opera concert

Alicia Hall Moran | 7/20/2011, 5:38 p.m.

Those wanting to hear our Metropolitan National Council Auditions winner, bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, can finally do so right in Harlem-and free of charge!

Fresh from a riveting turn as Il Commendatore in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" with Martina Arroyo's "Prelude to Performance," Green comes our way Thursday, July 28 for the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series. Showtime is 7 p.m. at the central band shell in Jackie Robinson Park (between Bradhurst and Edgecombe avenues and West 145th to 155th streets).

Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m., Queens audiences can enjoy the concert at Socrates Sculpture Park, 3134 Vernon Blvd. Joining Green are soprano Layla Claire, mezzo-soprano Renee Tatum, Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan and pianist Bradley Moore.

Also in the news, New York City Opera is leaving Lincoln Center's David L. Koch Theater, its home for the past 55 years.

Founded at City Center in 1943, the "people's opera," as Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declared it, has been operating on the principles of its first director, Laszlo Halasz: innovative opera-making with fresh American talent at a lower ticket price.

But as George Steel, NYCO's general manager and artistic director, explained, "For the last 10 years, we've seen our expenses growing and our revenues constantly flat. Now it is a $47 million deficit." He has been at the helm since 2009.

"We are trying to match expenses urgently, and there are three areas of expense we're working to cut. One is the cost of operating out of Lincoln Center. Then, we have cut 14 jobs from the staff. And finally, we need to consider the union contracts-the orchestra and the chorus." Scores of singers and musicians are vehemently opposed to these fixes.

"It's going to ruin the careers of close to 200 people, including the orchestra and chorus," said Tino Gagliardi, president of the American Federation of Musicians (Local 802) on the NY1 evening news. He recently lead a protest on the steps of Lincoln Center and Fifth Avenue's Museum Mile. On the Local 802 website, Gagliardi writes: "First and foremost, let me say that we want NYCO to survive and thrive. Naturally, we wish the company success. But what does this move mean for our members? Our collective bargaining agreement with NYCO requires that the orchestra be partners in any decision regarding a change of venue."

The New York City Opera Education programming and Opera Outreach schedules have not been announced. Likewise, unannounced is the fate of initiatives like opera at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, though NYCO's former support was earnest.

"I remain absolutely committed to taking the company to a new, sustainable and artistically excellent model," he continues. "I came to this job because I love New York City and I love the opera." We hope that the increasingly rich diversity of faces of New York City will continue to see light on its main stage, wherever that might be.

The new, compact, experimental season includes four productions, plus a collaboration with the Public Theater on a series of Shakespeare-inspired operas for Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater.

First up (Feb. 12-18, 2012) is Verdi's "La Traviata," featuring Laquita Mitchell, a young star of the opera world-a clever, superb choice to lead this embattled ship out of some troubled water! She's a native New Yorker, an award-winning graduate of Manhattan School of Music and a beautiful African-American woman who's excelling in roles like Donna Elvira, Bess and Mimi, and being directed by the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Francesca Zambello, Placido Domingo and Dennis Russell Davies.

Next up (Feb. 19-25, 2012) is the much-anticipated Rufus Wainwright opera "Prima Donna," at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Tim Albery will direct.

Christopher Alden directs "Cosi fan Tutte" out of the Gerald Lynch Theater at John Jay College March 18- 24, 2012.

Then the finale: East Harlem's Museo del Barrio will host a production of Georg Philipp Telemann's 1726 opera "Orpheus" (May 12-20, 2012). If they borrow heavily from Marcel Camus' 1959 film set in Brazil, they'll have a huge hit on their hands.