Just in: San Diego Opera halts closure

The board met all day yesterday and decided to suspend the company’s intended closure on April 14. It will take another fortnight to see if the company can raise $10  million to put on another season, presumably under new management.

The vote for postponement was 35-4. The previous vote for closure was 33-1.

A lot of minds were changed yesterday, some of them by a personal appearance by Opera America president and CEO Marc Scorca.

Public protest has also made an impact.

This is not over, yet.

Read more here and here.

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  • Unfortunately nothing was said about a change in leadership, paycuts (the unions have said they are willing; meanwhile Campbell is on record telling a high-level employee, “You don’t want to go down that road”), moving to cheaper offices or performance venues – so while the board may be looking into financial details, they haven’t indicated they are open to real change.

  • If only the patterns of financial crisis and closures would lead to an honest appraisal of America’s dysfunctional and isolated funding system of donations by the wealthy, and the resulting extreme limitations of opera in America. It is unacceptable that the USA only has 3 cities in the top 100 for opera performances per year, and that two of those don’t even make the top 50. Opera America should learn that boosterism that does not also include honest appraisal leads to delusion and ultimately ends in a fraudulent facade.

        • If the situation in the States were similar on a per captita basis to Germany, the government would be employing about 30,000 full time, year-round orchestra musicians with full benefits (health insurance, retirement, etc.) And there would be about 240 full time opera houses. Me thinks the AF of M wouldn’t complain.

          In 1993, when my wife left the Munich Phil, the first chair players were making about 130k a year, a figure in line with top German and American orchestras.

          The average salary for regional orchestras in the USA is 13k a year. Germany’s regional orchestras do much better.

          It should be noted however, that state owned and operated orchestras are better at controlling costs than privately funded ones. The USA would do well to trim at the top and pay the regional orchestras better.

          • In 1993, when my wife left the Munich Phil, the first chair players were making about 130k a year, a figure in line with top German and American orchestras.

            That seems to imply that you think that the MP isn’t or back then wasn’t one of the top German orchestras. I don’t think one can call the MP merely a “regional” orchestra.

          • I clearly say it was a salary in line with top German orchestras. Readers should remember that “Michael Schaffer” is someone shilling under a fake name. He has insisted “Michael Schaffer” is a real person, which says something about the author’s integrity.

          • He is obviously a very accomplished musician but there is no record of him whatsoever on the web that I can find, which these days is virtually impossible. If he can point us to a website, or clear references on the web to his professional life, past or present, then we can clear up the matter. He claimed once to have a FB page, but I could not find it, and that would be shaky evidence without other web references.

            In web parlance, the use of multiple identities is referred to as sock puppets and is a common practice. Presenting a false name as a real person is referred to as a meat puppet.

            False identities on the web are certainly not confined to SD since people can easily create multiple email accounts under several names. It is impossible for blog owners to verify the real identities of the people who register comments. I suppose one could try to trace IP addresses, but that is technically complex. My apologies if I’m being a nuisance.

  • One wonders how people, who think themselves important can make that 33-1 vote, and only after there is an out cry, ask for further information.

    Why vote one way or the other before you have all the necessary information?

    I couldn’t live with myself.

    • The large majority of board members aren’t really concerned with the operations of arts organizations. They are essentially in honorary positions through which they are expected to make large donations.

      Once they see an organization failing they react in their own interests to avoid fiscal liabilities. This includes shutting down organizations or slashing their budgets. David Koch, for example, was the principle funder of the NYCO. He was behind slashing its budget so strongly that the company, which was already running on a shoe string, finally collapsed.

      And after the Anna Nicole production, he dumped the company completely because late billionaire J. Howard Marshall II was a big investor in Koch Industries, and his family hates Anna Nicole Smith.

      It is ridiculous to have amateurs oversee and fund arts organizations simply because they are wealthy. They are usually incompetent. Until these problems with funding and leadership are solved, opera in America will continue to be a very limited enterprise hiding behind a facade of delusions as the numbers for budgets and performances plainly show.

  • What seems unacknowledged in this forum and in others is that it’s going to take more than cutting costs, moving offices and getting rid of the Campbells to keep this company running. It’s going to take several millions of dollars to keep season 14-15 on the road. Unless one or more of SDO’s Board member’s stumps up, or unless some other major donor comes riding in on a white horse with saddle bags packed full of bucks, then San Diego Opera has no choice but to close.

    Or do we expect the company to limp forward in bad faith, knowing it doesn’t have the cash flow to support the season, just wait for the inevitable and dramatic bust in the middle of La Boheme? Perhaps under such circumstances, the commentary against the company’s General and Artistic Director Ian Campbell would not be nearly so vitriolic.

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