19 May 2014

San Diego Opera Board Votes to Stay Open, Plans to Present Three-Opera Season in 2015

After fundraising more than $4.5 million and cutting ties with the general and artistic director that advocated for its closure, San Diego Opera's board of directors formally moved today to rescind its March 19 vote to shutdown the company and undertake plans to present a 2015 season.

Today's referendum invalidated the March 19 board vote to cease all operations in the face of what the company's then board characterized as "insurmountable financial hurdles." Pursuant to that vote, the company originally intend to shutter its doors on April 14, 2014, the day following its final performance of Don Quixote. In the wake of a public outcry, the board subsequently voted on March 31 to defer the company's closure by two weeks. On April 18, the company's board elected a new president, Carol Lazier — who herself pledged $1 million in an effort to encourage the SDO board to overturn the dissolution vote — and further deferred a drop-dead closure date for the organization until May 19.

On May 15, the company formally parted ways with both its longtime general and artistic director, Ian D. Campbell, and his ex-wife, deputy general director Ann Spira Campbell, both of whose compensation and retirement benefits had been the focus of intense scrutiny following the March 19 announcement to cease all operations, which reportedly came at the instigation of Ian Campbell. 

"The public spoke, we listened, and we're open for business," said board president Carol Lazier. 

Utilizing crowdfunding efforts, San Diego Opera was able to raise $2,116,376 in donations from 2,461 of donors as of Sunday, May 18, 2014, the day before the board's vote to rescind the closure. According to the company, 48% of the donors who donated had never before given to San Diego Opera, and donations came in from six countries — Austria, Australia, Canada, England, Italy and Mexico — in addition to 36 states. In announcing details of a 2015 season, and by surpassing its fundraising goal of $1 million, an escrow account — set up by San Diego Opera to protect the crowdfunded donations if its goals had not been met — will release the funds into an account for the company's 2015 season. Along with traditional philanthropic appeals, the company has thus far raised approximately $4.5 million of its $6.5 million fundraising goal. The company's board is reportedly optimistic that it can raise the remaining $2 million. 

For its 2015 season, the company has planned to utilize an operating budget totaling nearly $10.5 million, with the costs beyond the fundraising goal financed by anticipated earned box-office income. While SDO's financial assets reportedly dropped from $33 million in 2007 to $15.7 million last year (its 2014 operating budget reportedly amounted to roughly $17 million), San Diego Opera remains unique among American opera companies in that it carries no accumulated deficit.

Next season, San Diego Opera will present a new-to-San Diego production of La Bohème (January 24, 27, 29 and February 1m) featuring tenor David Lomelí as Rodolfo, soprano Alyson Cambridge as Mimì and soprano Sara Gartland as Musetta, all making their house debuts under the baton of SDO resident conductor Karen Keltner. A new production of Don Giovanni will take the stage of the San Diego Civic Theatre for performances on February 14, 17, 20 and 22. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo will make his house debut in the title role, while Ellie Dehn will sing Donna Anna and Myrtò Papatanasiu will sing the role of Elvira. Daniele Callegari will conduct those performances. John Adams' Nixon in China will take the stage four performances in March, conducted by Joseph Mechavich. Baritone Franco Pomponi will sing the role of Richard Nixon, while soprano Maria Kanyova will take on the role of Pat Nixon; baritone Chen-Ye Yuan has been cast as Chou En-Lai and tenor Alfred Kim will be Mao Tse-Tung; Richard Paul Fink returns to the company to sing Henry Kissinger. 

In addition to three staged operas, the company will present two fiftieth anniversary gala concerts featuring soprano Lise Lindstrom and surprise guests on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19. spacer

More information can be found at San Diego Opera, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the OPERA NEWS Archives (here, herehere and here).

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