Austin Opera’s maestro was fired February 1, unfortunate timing as the company’s main fundraising event, their wine auction and dinner, was scheduled for February 17. This year’s dinner was in honor of a couple who’d been major supporters of the opera for years, and who had invited friends from as far as Australia for the event. There’d been lots of talk and excitement in the months before and this was problematic: once news hit that the maestro had been cast out and ruined, the honorees let it be known that they were so disgusted with the poor way his termination had been handled that they wouldn’t be attending the party. Welcome to the opera wars: an immediate, deep and growing schism between those in the newly hired director’s camp and those in the camp of the newly fired and degraded maestro.
The wine dinner happened as it was supposed to but minus nearly half the guests. And the honorees gave their own dinner, same night, same time with their own guests plus the wounded maestro whom I finally got to meet up close and personal.
He seemed like a smart, funny, nice man. I could imagine his fingers lingering in a shoulder rub a fraction of a second too long but nothing much more offensive than that. To me the claims against him, which were fuzzy and generalized, did not seem that terrible. I will tell you more about them next time.