Gerard Mortier, the controversial Flemish-Belgian director of major European opera houses and music festivals, a passionate and intellectually voracious provocateur, will become the general manager and artistic director of the New York City Opera starting in 2009. Mr. Mortier? Running the "people's opera," as Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia affectionately dubbed the company at its inauguration in 1944?
Clearly New York's "other" opera company is poised to shake up the local scene. The news must have rattled Peter Gelb at the Metropolitan Opera, who in his short time as general manager has been recasting that hidebound institution as a hip and innovative house and given the international opera world a lesson in how to use the communications resources of the digital age to bring opera to new audiences. It appears that Mr. Gelb will be facing competition from a man with a proven record of grabbing attention.
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