A tenor laments the abolition of San Diego Opera

A tenor laments the abolition of San Diego Opera


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2014

It was one of the best places to work, says Richard Leech in his open letter, and Ian Campbell was the best of bosses. Such a shame it had to go. More lament than protest. Here’s his letter.

richard leech

One of our readers has noted that San Diego’s budget of $15 million equates to the annual turnover of an average supermarket. One difference, though, is that the supermarket manager and his wife do not, on the whole, trouser five percent of turnover as salary.

There is more to this abrupt closure than has yet met the public eye.


  • The operating budget of the Palm Beach Opera is 4.1 million dollars. So if San Diego’s 15 million is equal to an average supermarket, I guess Palm Beach’s would be about equal to the corner grocery….

  • Leech describes the San Diego Opera as “one of the most highly regarded companies in the industry.” Lets just call that operatic hyperbole. San Diego ranks 296th in the world for opera performances per hear. Many small European cities with populations of 120,000 or less outrank it by over 200 positions.

    SDO averaged around 16 performances per year – a number major European houses often complete in 2 to 3 weeks. More of the façade of fraud that characterizes opera in America.

  • nyer says:

    I am curious to learn more about the conductor shake-up that happened in 2012 as well, because it seems like the company was set on a course at least since then of change and breaking with tradition. Edoardo Müller is a fine man, a nurturing conductor and a supportive colleague who had an association with the SD house for 31 years. Were there signs that the company was drastically changing its tack, even two years ago?


  • Stereo says:

    Such a glowing reference penned by Campbell himself?

  • nick says:

    I disagree with the last commentator in one aspect that SDO uses San Diego Symphony in the pit. That part of the product quality is unmatched by bigger place like Houston Grand Opera and very comparable to San Francisco Opera.