Music: Opera Without Opulence

Something of an operatic figure him self, New York's late Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia wanted to start a people's opera. Four years ago he did — the non-profit New York City Opera Company —and hired an unsung director named Laszlo Halasz to run it: he was the only applicant who had no pull. But he id have push — enough push to start a small operatic revolution.

Hungarian-born Conductor Halasz, a slight and dynamic man who has been in the U.S. eleven years, was given a contract to produce three operas. He inherited a rococo hall, a shoe-string budget (seats...

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