“You can’t turn back the clock and shouldn’t try,” says Will Crutchfield, who in his precocious youth walked away from a likely promotion to chief music critic of the New York Times to pursue dicier adventures as a musicologist-conductor of decidedly antiquarian leanings. Over the past two decades, his summer series Bel Canto at Caramoor, in Westchester County, resurrected 19th-century Italian masterpieces, many of them unjustly neglected. From the ashes of that admirable initiative, Crutchfield has now created Teatro Nuovo.
Part opera company in embryo, part postgrad study group, the new venture devotes itself (in the words of its online mission statement) to “cutting-edge interpretation” of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and their contemporaries. While such phrases customarily point to a cult of directorial caprice, Crutchfield gives it a quite different spin. As general and artistic director, his allegiance is to historically informed vocal virtuosity, supported by instrumentalists who take their cues from the drama as it unfolds onstage.