The initial commission for “Prima Donna” came from a joint venture of the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater to generate new work. The Met withdrew from this project partly because Mr. Wainwright insisted on writing the opera in French, and Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, wanted to foster works in English for American audiences. This seems senseless. A Philip Glass opera in Sanskrit is an American work, but not a Wainwright opera in French?Good question. The primacy of the non-profit model means that all creative efforts are now tied to the lawyerly instincts of grant writers and development professionals. Now, plays and operas receive funding because they fall in line with stated tertiary goals, like the advancement of a certain narrow type of work. As Anthony Tommasini points out, this is senseless on its face. But isn't even the discussion slightly absurd? Shouldn't institutions like the Met and Lincoln Center fund work because of their desire to see quality?
Frankly, if any institution should be free of goals beyond simply "good opera" you'd thin it would be these.