Jessica Duchen: This institution represents the Big Apple's cultural core


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It is a sorry state of affairs when an opera company resorts to locking out its own performers – and the once vibrant and innovative New York City Opera (NYCO) is looking like barely a rump of its former self.

The steps leading up to this have been a catalogue of mistakes, misdemeanours and downright bad luck. But the turn of events that may spell the end of a vital presence on New York's musical scene are all the more tragic given this company's history and the special place it holds in so many musical hearts in the city.

Cost-cutting is everywhere. While the need for it is undeniable, cut too far in the wrong place and arteries are severed. The brief of NYCO was quite different from that of The Met, with its glitzy audiences and eye-watering ticket prices. NYCO was opera for the people, opera for today, opera to nurture rising talents who desperately need the opportunities it provided. If it were to vanish, the operatic core of the Big Apple would be well and truly eaten away.

Jessica Duchen is an opera critic