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Brokeback Mountain and Disney Opera Shelved After Mortier's Departure

Variety is reporting that due to the recent departure of City Opera Artistic Director Gerard Mortier, some upcoming opera projects will be shelved. Among them, the adaption of the film "Brokeback Mountain" and a new opera based on the life of Walt Disney, "The Perfect American".

Mortier reportedly left the organization, which like many arts organizations has been undergoing financial strain resulting in a series of layoffs, because of "budgetary constraints that would not allow him to achieve his programming goals."

Back in June, it was announced that Charles Wuorinen was commissioned to write an opera adaptation of the popular film Brokeback Mountain., the 2005 romantic drama that depicts the complex romantic and sexual relationship between two men in the West over the course of twenty years.  The film was directed by Ang Lee from a screenplay by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, which they adapted from the short story "Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Proulx. The film starred the late Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams. Brokeback Mountain had the most nominations (eight) for the 78th Academy Awards, where it won three: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.

Then in September, following a meeting of New York City Opera's Board of Directors Mortier, announced that City Opera would be commissioning Philip Glass to compose a new opera, The Perfect American which imaginatively explores the life and career of Walt Disney. Based on the recent novel Der König von Amerika (translated into English as The Perfect American) by Peter Stephan Jungk, the opera, which was to be presented in collaboration with Improbable, was scheduled to open City Opera's 2012-2013 season.

The world premiere of this work, the 24th opera by Philip Glass, would have honored the 75th birthday of the distinguished composer, whose association with City Opera dates back to the 1980s, when the company presented the New York premiere of his Akhnaten and recorded his Satyagraha.

Mr. Mortier had also scheduled a Philip Glass work for his inaugural 2009-2010 season when City Opera would present the landmark opera Einstein on the Beach.

Mr. Mortier reportedly hopes to take his commissions to another organization for production.

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