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NYC Arts News: Renovations Galore, Discount Tickets, New Opera Season

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and the country’s most significant cultural complex is getting a makeover. In February, the center unveiled the thoroughly renovated Alice Tully Hall, one of the city’s premier spaces for chamber music. Next month's opening of the Atrium at Lincoln Center offers a first: a visitor center with a box office at which it will be possible to purchase same-day tickets, some at 50 percent discount, to performances presented by Lincoln Center and its resident companies (think TKTS for Lincoln Center, but better—the attractive indoor space has a ‘wichcraft café, free Wi-Fi, and an info desk, among other amenities).

And the former New York State Theater, the home of the New York City Opera and the New York City Ballet, reopened on November 5, renamed the David H. Koch Theater (above). The $107 million renovation is extensive, front and back of house, and looks great.  In the auditorium, two new aisles run through the orchestra level and allow audiences to get to their seats with ease. All the seats are new and comfy, supporting the body in all the right places.  The overriding impetus for the refurbishment was to improve the theater’s acoustics (including the removal of a troubling sound amplification system), the results of which will be assessed as the opera and ballet settle in.

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Because of the reopening in early November, the NYCO has an abbreviated fall season.  Two operas run in repertory through November 22: Hugo Weisgall’s Esther, a quasi-biblical drama the company premiered in 1993 to critical and popular success but which has not been seen since, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a new production by director-provocateur Christopher Alden that is sure to raise some eyebrows.  Recently, there were fears that NYCO might not survive some financial and artistic setbacks, but the opera is back and in a big way, with the assured leadership of its new general manger George Steel. There is much to celebrate. Go!

The New York City Ballet opens on November 24 with a gala program, followed by George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (through January 3), and winter repertory (through February 28).  The New York City Opera returns on March 18 for its spring season.

Mario Mercado is the arts editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo of the David H. Koch Theater courtesy of © Jon Simon; Don Giovanni photo by © Carol Rosegg

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