Last month in Los Angeles, Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, premiered a chamber opera he wrote with composer Paul Salerni called "Tony Caruso’s Final Broadcast." The main character, Tony Caruso, is a failed operatic tenor, but he’s well respected as a classical music announcer. Sadly, Tony loses his job when his station drops its classical format and switches to Golden Oldies.
A familiar and painfully realistic scenario. The opera is fiction, but here’s a scenario that’s real: just over a year ago National Public Radio quietly closed down its Classical Music Unit, laid off nearly all of the staff, and outsourced its flagship shows Performance Today and SymphonyCast to American Public Media. NPR executed the shutdown so quietly that the public really never even knew about it.