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San Diego Opera Will Meet Today to Discuss Continuing Operation

On Friday, opera officials announced that an escrow account had been established to accept donations to fund what would be the 50th season.

San Diego Opera kicks off its 2014 season with "Pagliacci." Photo Credit: Cory Weaver
San Diego Opera kicks off its 2014 season with "Pagliacci." Photo Credit: Cory Weaver

San Diego Opera officials are scheduled this morning to discuss keeping the company afloat and preserving its assets amid a $1 million fundraising campaign and recent personnel changes.

Financial problems led the opera's Board of Directors last month to decide to shut its doors for good, but employees and fans oppose the closure. The company's initial target to cease operations on April 14 was later reset to May 19.

On Friday, opera officials announced that an escrow account had been established to accept donations to fund what would be the 50th season. As of Sunday evening, just over $100,000 of the $1 million goal had been raised, according to the opera's website.

"The public's support for the San Diego Opera's future has been overwhelming," acting board President Carol Lazier said. "People could not accept their beloved opera was disappearing and took to the streets in protest. We heard you."

Opera officials said that if the goal was not met by the proposed closing date or the opera ended up closing anyway, the donations would be returned.

Tax deductible donations can be made online at sdopera.com/moveforward, or by calling (619) 533-7000 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

"We are now very focused on reshaping the San Diego Opera and following a fiscally responsible path," Lazier said.

The opera has also made a series of recent personnel changes led by former President Karen Cohn's resignation during a contentious meeting two weeks ago. On Friday, Lazier announced that Ian Campbell, the company's CEO and also its general and artistic director, and General Director Ann Spira Campbell had been placed on leave.

Keith Fisher, executive director for the past 12 years, was then named chief operating officer and was tasked with managing staff and resources.

Lazier, who took over for Cohn, said she had "the utmost faith in his ability to handle the current needs of the company with urgency, clarity and discretion."

Nearly 50 staffers and about 350 local musicians, singers and other tradespeople depend on the opera season's five months of work, Director of Education Nicolas Reveles said. The company also has an about $7 million impact on the local economy, he said.

The patron and donor base for operas are lessening nationwide. Companies in New York City, Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Antonio and Orange County have recently gone out of business, according to the San Diego opera.

—City News Service

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