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New York City Opera Timeline

Wednesday - 10/2/2013, 1:20pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- A timeline of the New York City Opera, which announced Tuesday it will file for bankruptcy protection and wind down operations:

March 5, 1943 -- After New York City forecloses on the Mecca Temple in midtown the previous September, City Council President Newbold Morris holds a meeting at City Hall and proposes to Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to convert the building to a music center.

July 21, 1943 -- LaGuardia announces formation of City Center of Music and Drama Inc., a private not-for-profit corporation. Lawyer Morton Baum is a driving force in the founding.

Oct. 31, 1943 -- Laszlo Halasz is hired as artistic and musical director of opera at City Center. He held the same posts with the St. Louis Grand Opera from 1937-42.

Dec. 11, 1943 -- City Center opens with a performance of the New York Philharmonic and conductor Artur Rodzinski.

Jan. 14, 1944 -- City Center announces it will form opera and repertory theater companies.

Feb. 21, 1944 -- New York City Center Opera gives its first performance, with Dusolina Giannini in the title role of Puccini's "Tosca," Mario Berini as Cavaradossi, George Czaplicki as Scarpia and Halasz conducting. Tickets are priced at 85 cents to $2.20. Flotow's "Martha" is presented the following night and Bizet's "Carmen" on Feb. 24 with a cast that includes Jennie Tourel in the title role. The company becomes a showcase for young American singers. LaGuardia dubs New York City Center Opera "the people's opera."

March 31, 1949 -- City Opera stages William Grant Still's "Troubled Island," the first of its approximately 29 world premieres.

Dec. 21, 1951 -- Halasz is fired and Joe Rosenstock is named acting director.

Jan. 22, 1952 -- Rosenstock is named general director.

Dec. 19, 1955 -- Rosenstock resigns.

Dec. 27, 1955 -- Erich Leinsdorf is named general director.

Nov. 27, 1956 -- Company eliminates spring season, citing $160,000 deficit.

Jan. 17, 1957 -- City Opera board drops plan to ask Metropolitan Opera for a merger and hires Julius Rudel as managing director after Leinsdorf asks to be relieved.

Jan. 10, 1965 -- City Center and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announce City Opera will move to Lincoln Center's New York State Theater the following year, with Lincoln Center leasing the building to City Center.

Feb. 22, 1966 -- First performance at the New York State Theater, with Placido Domingo singing the title role in Alberto Ginastera's "Don Rodrigo."

Sept. 1-24, 1973 -- Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians strikes on the fourth day of the season. Following agreement, performances resume Sept. 29.

July 25, 1975 -- John Samuels III elected chairman of City Center, which announces formation of separate boards for City Opera and New York City Ballet.

Jan. 8, 1978 -- Soprano Beverly Sills announces she will retire from singing in late 1980 and will become co-director of City Opera with Rudel.

Dec. 13, 1978 -- Rudel resigns, effective June 30, but will remain with company as principal conductor.

Jan. 8, 1980 -- City Opera's National Opera Touring Company is announced.

May 12, 1981 -- Samuels resigns as City Opera chairman and is replaced by Robert W. Wilson, effective June 25.

July 8, 1982 -- Sills announces the company's traditional spring and fall seasons will be combined into a July-December season starting in 1983.

July 7-Aug. 29, 1983 -- Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians strikes the day before opening night, canceling what was to have been the first summer season. The season, shortened to 60 performances, opens Sept. 21 with Massenet's "Cendrillon" -- with supertitles projected above the stage for the first time.

Sept. 2, 1985 -- A warehouse fire in Passaic, N.J., destroys most of the company's costumes, except for the current season's productions, which were at the New York State Theater.

Sept. 2, 1988 -- Conductor Christopher Keene selected to replace Sills as general director starting in March 1989. Keene had been music director from 1983-86.

Sept. 13-Nov. 18, 1989 -- A strike by Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians forces cancellation of the remainder of the season, which began July 6. An agreement is announced the day before the season had been scheduled to end.

April 15, 1993 -- Wilson resigns as chairman and is succeeded as co-chairmen by lawyer Irwin Schneiderman, the company president, and Lloyd Rigler, the vice chairman, who lives in Los Angeles.

Feb. 9, 1994 -- Keene announces the company will return to separate fall and spring seasons starting with the 1994-95 season.

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