US opera company cancels the rest of its season

The opera company of Eugene, Oregon, struggling with accumulated debt, has scrapped the rest of its season. It will hold town hall meeting to see what the public really want and whether they can sustain an opera season.

The two operas cancelled are West Side Story and Peter Brook’s adaptation of Carmen.

The current deficit has not been disclosed. It was last estimated at $90,000. The company has been producing opera for 40 years.

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  • Surely if any two operas/musicals are going to draw in the crowds they would be West Side Story and Carmen – albeit the downscaled grittier Peter Brook version. If these can’t boost revenue figures, then the company has to be in its death throes.

  • The city’s official slogan is “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors”. Well, they still have symphony, the Bach Festival and a lot of jazz, rock, pop.

  • another victim of the sick Obama/Biden/Clinto years
    ( hahaha)
    pity you can’t blame this on the two day old presidency !

  • I’d blame the company for bad management and bad marketing myself, and not investing enough private funding into something that is called an opera company but does a cut-down Carmen and WSS, which here we would class, like Showboat or Carousel, as a musical, whether it’s sung by opera singers or not. Opera North recently did Carousel but they never marketed it as an opera like the Snow Maiden last night.

    • Until one can examine several years of hard numbers–earned and contributed income, ticket sales, production cost, staff size & salaries, etc.–who knows?

  • Probably there’s no one to blame. The vast public’s taste changes over time. Some things become unpopular to the point of unsustainability. Others prove durable or even resurgent. There’s only so much that administrators and donors can do to influence these trends. It’s OK. They shouldn’t blame themselves for closures like this. They fought the good fight. They sustained the art beyond, let’s say, its natural life. They can be proud of that.

    • With all respect I find that a quite ridiculous reply. Why are CEO’s hired? Why are Music Directors hired? To be responsible to their Boards for artistic standards and the efficient – repeat efficient – management of their companies. What is the duty of Boards? To analyse in great detail the plans submitted by their professional team and to confirm that they and the fund raising team will be able to underwrite those plans.

      Management, amongst other issues, not only means effective publicity and marketing; it means evaluating and knowing the communities in which it operates. If public tastes change, management has to be aware of this. Then either programming has to reflect this or the management has to bust its ass to go out and find the extra funds. To sit idly by and blame a company’s collapse on a change in public taste is the worst possible argument.

  • As a musician who lives and works in Eugene, I can tell you a few about the scene here:

    1. There is a great deal of competition among arts organizations in Eugene/Springfield for money. Eugene has a professional symphony orchestra, large chamber orchestra (Oregon Mozart Players), small chamber orchestra (Eugene Concert Orchestra, which accompanies the Concert Choir), opera, ballet orchestra (OrchestraNEXT), the Shedd Institute (produces jazz concerts, musicals, and more), and the Oregon Bach Festival. We have LOTS of support from our community, but it can be difficult to be noticed.

    2. Last year, Eugene Opera produced four operas…the previous six seasons, it had only produced two. They may have been a little overambitious for what they could handle.

    3. And finally, I don’t think the two operas they programmed this year were all that popular. I don’t think the Berlioz was that well known, and I imagine people would rather see a full opera then watch three scenes from different operas. Just a guess.

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