Video: San Diego Opera chief gets hooted at final premiere

Video: San Diego Opera chief gets hooted at final premiere


norman lebrecht

April 06, 2014

Ian Campbell was greeted with jeers, hisses and catcalls before the performance of San Diego Opera’s last production, Massenet’s Don Quichotte. Campbell’s plan to shut the company is now being hotly contested.


ian campbell


  • I hear more sycophantic clapping than I hear booing.

    • Leslie says:

      I heard the booing last night.

      • The disruption was substantial, but this amateur video, shot at the very back of dress circle, seems to be all “sycophantic clapping” as Derek Williams says. From my seat in Row S of the orchestra, it was easy to hear the screams and curses from the upper levels. The video simply does not capture the event adequately. Ian Campbell was royally booed before this video starts.

        I am sure it took some courage to go out in front of the audience at all, but opening night always has the big donors and Campbell loyalists. I gather they prefer loyalty to seeing any more operas. They have bought the “death with dignity” story and downed it with gallons of Kool Aid. In my opinion, San Diego does not have the will or even the money to support a first-class opera company. If I were a millionaire, I wouldn’t want to throw my money down the drain. So la commedia è finita! Frustrated rage is all that remains to us. I have attended the SDO for all of its 49 years.

    • C. says:

      From my perspective, much of the clapping seemed to be from a single group (at least initially), likely mostly board members, around 4 to 8 rows from the front, who stood up en masse in response to the booing and started clapping. Some of the shouting, on the other hand, seemed orchestrated by another faction.

      As a long-time donor, I felt the evening was quite disappointing for the future of the opera. Ian’s speech showed him still firmly against any chance of the opera surviving, despite the recent board vote. The Save SD Opera group outside was not visible enough. The mood in the tent at intermission was bizarre; no one seemed to care or talk about the impending closure, possible donations, or options to move the opera forward. Board members I spoke with acted as though the crisis didn’t exist, immediately changing the subject, and I overheard what seemed to be criticism and mockery of attendees wearing the save-the-opera pins/stickers. Members of the audience near our seats were somewhat more concerned, with some complaining about not receiving any calls for renewed donations or subscriptions even before the vote to close, and many agreeing that Ian should resign, but no one seemed interested in actually doing anything.

      Even worse, many people there seemed to see the impending closure as an opportunity to find new donors for their own organizations, and the situation felt like a feeding frenzy where we were pursued relentlessly; many conversations I tried to have about the closure and ways to help the opera ended up with suggestions that I support unrelated arts groups.

      Before last night, I had spent some time considering options for the opera to move forward, and also options to prevent the closure by forcing board reconsideration or reorganization. Without the support of more Association members, however, that’s not going to be possible, and that support really didn’t seem to be there.

      • Operabuff says:

        C –

        First off thank you for your support of San Diego Opera.

        Please don’t lose hope. Change needs to happen at the board level and it is actively being worked on. The staff are behind this idea change as well.

        I would suggest signing up here so San Diego Opera can contact you once a sustainable plan is in place. Once they know how much support is needed, and can guarantee your support will be protected and used as you want, they’ll be in touch.

        Additionally, since you’re clearly allowed access to the Bravissimo Patron Tent, you can contact your contact in Development and let them know your concerns.

        Rescind, remove, rebuild.

        A San Diego Opera supporter and friend.

  • Sonja Staron says:


    Since when can the Exuctive/Artistic Director shut down single-handedly a non profit entity? Surely, they do not have “potted plants” on the Board of Directors/Trustees. With his and his wife’s salary, perhaps they are the first to be “shut down.”

  • Shiny Silver says:

    I was 3 rows ahead of the guy. I realize he was upset but he set off my anxiety and i missed almost all of the speech and the first 15 minutes of the opera. It was one guy, and he said really rude things he should have been an adult about it. He was wrestled to his seat but seriously. DISRESPECTUL TO BOO IN THE THEATRE SO SIT DOWN.

    Also, calling someone a “kangaroo-ass” is NEVER okay.

    • Operalover says:

      Oh diddums, your poor anxiety. I hope you never lose your job because of an asshole like the one speaking in the video, because let me tell you, that would set off your anxiety. Also, it is not disrespectful to boo in the theatre. It is the height of theatre decorum to boo shoddy performances, such as this absolute tit has given as director of SDO. I suggest you never attend an opera in Italy. They are a very vocal audience indeed; and rightly so. To applaud mediocrity is to perpetuate it.

      • Big Poppa says:

        AMEN operalover. Shiny Silver, you need to acquaint yourself with theatrical tradition.

        • Shiny Silver says:

          Sorry, i live in san diego, the only tradition i know is what i observe locally, again sorry for my ignorance on the validity of booing in general. My main issue is the way he did it. I aappreciate the education though. It’d be appreciated more if presented in a less condescending way, however.i realize we’re all very upset though so i will not hold it against anyone. I just hope we can fight the good fight together with some more tact . You more experienced lovers and myself and other younger less initiated members of our community!

      • Shiny Silver says:

        I was mistaken about that one thing, i made a mistake. Sorry. Please don’t be rude to me. You don’t know my history.

        I would have to say i don’t believe they’d behave like that man did, for the record he wasn’t speaking or yelling he got out of his seat and started down the steps. Honestly, his yelling didnlt do it, it was the names and such. He couldn’t articulate his pov and resorted to insulting someone’s nationality. While the people down below may have barely heard him, he continued on fighting with the attendants until literally the last second. So, yeah that would have been distracting even without my anxiety.

        For the record, i had planned a future in opera, as my anxiety disappears in front of an audience and i have the voice, just working on the training and honing so i’m just as upset and sad to see it go. I just prefer to handle myselfcin a more mature wqy, and be.. y’know considerate of others.

  • music_lover says:

    That guy had every right to yell. It made a very strong impression on everyone in the audience, and was completely valid. He is killing the opera.

    You’re going to miss a whole lot more than 15 minutes of opera next season if Ian gets his way.

    • Shiny Silver says:

      It made an impression that he was an asshole, you’re correct. Are you all assuming i’m not on your side? I am, trust me. I just feel like we can be a little more tactful, if he was going to boo, he should have planned it out. Instead he came off as a raving irrational lunatic. He spoiled a good opportunity. And due to it caused an inconvenience to other opera lovers. Just fyi, the reason it sounds like more than one person is because everyone around him wanted him to sit down. Especially after insulting his nationality.