Friday, 2 May 2014

Philanthropic sleaze

Just back from a completely amazing performance of La Cerenterola (Cinderella) by Rossini at the Metropolitan Opera starring the two top singers out there in my increasingly knowledgeable amateur opinion, luscious Juan Diego Florez [left] and coloratura master Joyce DiDonato. The program notes that the production, now several years old, was “made possible” by a donation from one Alberto Vilar.

If one isn’t paying close attention, one could easily not be aware of the fact that Mr. Vilar currently resides in federal prison where he was dispatched for the crime of securities fraud. That is to say, that the generous “donation” which “made possible” this lovely operatic tour de force may have been “made possible” with other people’s money. That didn’t stop the Met, however, from saying, “Thanks again!”

In a city that stages ballet at the David H. Koch Theatre and hosts literary functions at the Stephen Schwartzman (Blackstone Group) main branch of the New York Public Library (the famous lions), this should not come as much of a surprise. But it is a telling side note on the seamy underbelly of this liberal city.

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