Opera house raises $172.9 million

Opera house raises $172.9 million


norman lebrecht

January 20, 2015

It didn’t come overnight. It was a seven-year campaign, reaching out to 6,648 donors, 4,558 of them first-timers.

But now the last pledges are in Houston Grand Opera has announced it overshot its $165 million target by almost 10 percent.

That’s some fund-raiser.



  • sdReader says:

    It’s a great company. Has been for decades. Am happy for them.

  • william osborne says:

    The HGO’s orchestra only has 48 musicians. Major houses have over twice that many. For example, the Vienna State Opera has 149 orchestra musicians, Munich State Opera around 140, close to three times as many.

    Houston only has 65 opera performances per year (including small productions like a Mariachi opera.) Even though Houston has the 20th largest metro GDP in the world, and 4th largest in the USA, it ranks 107th in the world for opera performances per year. It ranks only with provincial European cities.

    Major houses have an annual budget of about $150 million. The Met’s is $320 million. So the $173 million raised by Houston over seven years comes to only about $25 million per year — a truly paltry sum for a city that size. They use the term “Grand Opera” rather loosely. Everything in Texas is bigger…

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      Any time Houston or Harris county wants to establish one or more full-time, publically-funded opera companies they’re free to do so.

      As far as can be determined, the matter is not only not only one of hot debate, there’s no discussion whatsoever. Here’s the website for the Houston City Council (http://www.houstontx.gov/council/). Those for whom this is a matter of burning importance should start petitioning the local government to make the HGO a model for other cities to follow.

      • william osborne says:

        In the meantime, let’s take a solid look at our rinky-dink reality. Perhaps that will someday move Americans and their leaders to re-think their arts policies, except for maybe wing-nut Republicans.

        • NYMike says:

          Unfortunately, at least half the American public doesn’t accept reality including climate change, beginning of the known universe, pollution, etc. – so comparison with arts funding and appreciation in other countries falls mostly on deaf ears and blind eyes.

  • Paul Sullivan says:

    Well Norman, I’m going to take the more optimistic view like SDREADER. At least it’s something. I also agree with Greg’s statement. And while I admire Mr. Osborne’s knowledge, comparing a relatively young country like the U.S., with it’s amalgam of immigrants ( most who come here for economic reasons, not cultural), to the deep roots Europe has with Opera, is not really a fair comparison. While opera may be dying here, it’s step child, operetta (even more moribund than opera) now morphed into the musical does thrive here, no matter how much elites dislike it.