Major US opera sacks two dozen staff

Major US opera sacks two dozen staff


norman lebrecht

February 06, 2021

Buried in an upbeat blog by Seattle Opera boss Christina Scheppelmann is this sad nugget:


…. In September, we made the difficult decision to eliminate several positions—while many other staff members remained furloughed. We were hopeful that health conditions would improve and it would be safe to return to the theater in the first half of 2021. Now, we see this is not the case. Live performances will likely not resume until next season. Because we must be a much leaner operation for the near future, we do not see a path to rehire the staff members who are currently furloughed. Nor do we believe we can keep them on furlough for more than a year. Thus, we will be laying off the remaining 24 people on furlough. This is a very hard and emotional decision for Seattle Opera. The global pandemic continues to be the biggest challenge the performing arts sector has ever seen, and what we are discussing today would have been unimaginable when shutdowns began last March.

Included in our staffing plans for the near future is the reorganization of the Costume Shop and Hair and Makeup Studio into one department. …

Cut, slash, burn.



  • Lucinda Curtis says:

    Pity the voters are victimizing themselves after voting in such filth. It’s quite surprising the building hasn’t yet been torched like the rest considering the continual BLM and ANTIFA domestic terrorists still roaming about creating destruction.

    Seattle’s “defund the police” rubbish is further doing them in. DOLTS!


    • Bob says:

      Trying to distract from the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol last month isn’t going to work. Those disturbing images of insurgents with weapons and Confederate flags are seared into our collective memory.

      Heavily armed militias of “Oath Keepers” scare me more than anyone you mentioned.

      • A. Medford says:

        “Your” people have been in Seattle and of course Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, etc. all this time creating billions of dollars in property damage, injuries and lost lives.

        Your wretched support and enabling along with others about for BLM and ANTIFA has been a result of Democrat failings over several decades. Distracting and projecting due to your normal ineptitude is all filth like you do. The buildings, property and lives destroyed are more important than your ego.

        The only positive thing your kind did is spread COVID amongst each other as you travel in packs like the vermin you are. So much for wearing masks and social distancing as you march, provoke police and loot out of narcissism.

        • Bob says:

          “along with others for about…”
          “is all filth like you do…”
          “as you march, provoke police and loot out of narcissism…”

          A. Medford, you are not American and English is not your first language — that much is obvious. You don’t know the meaning of the word “narcissism.” So I have to ask: why are you so invested in this matter that you don’t understand?

        • Larry D says:

          As someone living in New York, I can verify that the entire city has been burned to the ground by filthy vermin roaming in packs. I swear it’s true! I myself am huddled in a dumpster outside Peter Gelb’s shell of a house.

          • MWnyc says:

            Oh, it’s totally true. Carnegie Hall is now a smoking pile of bricks. Innocent New Yorkers are trying to escape, but the mobs blew up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and knocked over the George Washington Bridge, so now we’re all boat people trying to cross over to New Jersey on flimsy rafts.

            And it was absolutely roaming packs of filthy vermin that did it. Pizza Rat was the ringleader — I saw him leading a mob of rodents in a chant of “Smash Whiteness!” as he lit a match with his tail and threw it into the Guggenheim right before the place burst into flames.

          • Quinn B. says:

            The UES certainly got trashed out. Even whiny Hillary voters refused to put up with what De Blasio did! They became anti-homeless/mentally-ill/junkie/sex offender in a New York minute when “college-educated, white fragility Libs” started getting harassed and beaten while watching their property values plummet.

            Apparently The Lucerne wasn’t “equitable” enough to house them for some PPP$$$ ??

            Are you in the UES or UWS Larry D?

            Upon reflection, The Met would make an ideal sober house with all those comfy seats going unused! Sure can’t rely on Cuomo to provide reliable opening guidance yet.

            Why Liberals can’t endure a little public defecation in the name of diversity all of the sudden is beyond me. Nancy Pelosi just gets chauffeured right past the stench to her private street in SF so what difference at this point does it make?!?!

      • Jeff Stanton says:

        You mean the peaceful protest?

        • Bob says:

          Peaceful protest? They set up a noose for Poodle Pence. They smeared feces inside the Capitol. They smashed windows so that members of Congress would be too scared to certify the election results. They wanted to kill people, and they succeeded. Weapons and tons of ammunition, body armor, zip ties for handcuffing lawmakers. Peaceful protest my ass.

          • P. Summerling says:

            It was clearly a peaceful protest Bob and Larry.

            Capitol Security detail was obviously lightened by Nancy Pelosi.

            She and senior Dems left before any of the others quite easily.

            Nancy was drunk again and lost her presentation laptop which she said was no big deal.

            Conveniently none of them suffered anything short of being offended as usual since they obviously knew to leave ahead of time. Dems “fled” first.

            Dems didn’t have the balls to stay and fight. They RAN AWAY LIKE WIMPS letting ARMED security forces protect them.

            AOC LIED about her little wanna-be encounter and already got roasted by fellow Dems on Twitter and facebook. She wasn’t even around.

            It’s going to be much more fascinating to know
            a. why the Capitol which is guarded 24/7/365 was so EASY to penetrate on that particular day while they were in session of all times…too coincidental
            B. why guards simply let people through the barricades
            c. why the other security mechanisms were left unmanned
            d. where all the sharpshooters were
            e. why the scaffolding was left up
            f. why only a handful of security were around such a huge, major government building
            g. why so few staff members were on the premises that day of all days and more points..

            At least Democrats proved something. WALLS WORK!!! The long razor wire one is something they suddenly “need”. Bunch of dumb WIMPS!

            No matter. BLM and ANTIFA criminals did much worse costing BILLIONS in damage that Democrats PRAISED over several months prior. The little Capitol gathering is insignificant compared to what Harris, Pelosi and Waters invoked with their encouragement. Biden and the rest cheered them on so no need to overreact boys and girls.

          • Walter W. says:

            Sounds tame compared to your ANTIFA and BLM chums.

      • Smiling Larry says:


        This refers to the US Capitol storming on January 6, but the State of Washington had its own insurrection the same day. Amidst other mayhem, armed Trump insurrectionists smashed through the gates of the governor’s mansion in the state capitol of Olympia.

        State of Washington taxpayers are facing well over $4 million in extra security costs resulting from the mobilization of the National Guard and extra state police on that day, with the cost of repairing all the damage not yet figured into it. Some of those funds could have been better directed to constructive enterprises such as the Seattle Opera, but instead had to be spent on fending off violent liars and imbeciles.

        Neither this nor the financial problems of the Seattle Opera can be blamed on BLM or the mythical Antifa no matter how desperately you pathetic idiots try.

        Incidentally, in denouncing the Defunding the Police movement and absurdly relating it to the Seattle Opera, Lucinda Curtis has supplied a link to Seattle Times article in which the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild says “the ‘far left’ and Black Lives Matter were responsible, in part, for the attack on Congress as it attempted to certify the election of President Joe Biden.” I am not in favor of defunding the police, but the continued funding of Truly Epic Stupidity such as this will not bring us another Ring.

        • Jay Tiffton says:

          Where are your factual sources to support such claims?

          • Smiling Larry says:

            Fair enough, and here you are, an investigation by the Washington Post. Photos and charts and lists of numbers to crunch. Note that many costs are still “unavailable,” so these figures will only go up. If you live in the US, find your state! It’s fun for the whole family!!

            For those who don’t trust clicking on links, here is a nice excerpt (cut-and-pasted):

            Chris Loftis, communications director for the Washington State Patrol, said the new “staggeringly high” costs for security and other expenses constituted “a wasteful distraction of essential and diminishing resources.”
            Not included in the more than $4 million estimated security bill for Washington state taxpayers is the yet-to-be-determined cost of fixing a gate at the governor’s mansion broken by armed demonstrators on Jan. 6.
            “Not only have our people, places and processes of democracy been attacked and damaged, but the continuing expense of this new security environment will take away from funds that could have been used for covid vaccines and treatment” and other critical expenses, Loftis said.

            Does Mr. Loftis sound like “filth” to anybody? Especially that last statement? The Seattle Opera is among the cultural endeavors deserving of some of those lost funds.

            The article leaves the last word to Mr. Loftis:

            Loftis, the Washington State Patrol spokesman, has said he has the full backing of his agency’s leadership to speak out.
            “The selfish madness that caused this national self-inflicted wound must be addressed, as it has heaped tragedy on top of tragedy,” he said. “If those of us in law enforcement don’t speak up in defense of democracy and public safety, then our silence becomes a dreadfully powerful statement in its own right.”

          • Hayne says:

            If the election was so obvious then why are the big tech companies censoring investigations about it? They don’t want people to get upset with “false reporting?” People can’t think for themselves? Why does the media condemn any people questioning as “insurrectionists” or “white nationalists” (forgetting the fact of blacks, asians, hispanics questioning also)? You are labeling just like the media taught you. Have you ever wondered why the champions of the 1st amendment are demanding censorship? The New York Times is demanding a new “reality czar” to imprison anyone they claim is stating fake news. Are you agreeing that millions of people can’t be trusted to make up their own minds? For your narrative to work, they all must be categorized and labeled a certain way.
            About the capitol. Let me ask a couple of questions. How exactly did the police officer die at the hands of Trump people? What was the name of the officer who shot Ashli Babbit? How exactly did the other people die at the Capitol? There have been at least 20 people identified as antifa or other far left groups in the Capitol. Have they been charged? It’s been over a month and no answers to these questions. Of course people shouldn’t have gone into the Capitol. Did you see the huge crowd of up to 300000 people outside? Are they all “insurrectionists” also?
            I know we are inundated constantly by the media to think a certain way. Wouldn’t curiosity want you to look at other information (researched and verified) to see other sides to a narrative?

          • Alicia says:

            What do they need security for?

            It’s more critical to defund the police, correct???

            So defund the Capitol Police and end white supremacy.

      • V.F. says:

        Revolting Libs clearly demand drugs over police protection. We have these types in Chicago, LA and NY who don’t care about anybody else either especially when they kill somebody else when they’re high.

    • Hayne says:

      Anyone who downvotes her betrays their complete ignorance of what’s really going on. I know, it doesn’t fit the narrative…

    • True North says:

      What a scary fantasy world you have chosen to live in! Maybe time to take a little break from right-wing media, before you feel the urge to mount an armed insurrection of a government institution?

      • Hugh Landis says:

        Trump was just acquitted for the second time!! You Democrats chose to act out out of hate with edited videos to suit your deranged base.

        Today’s trial predictably backfired as did the Russian delusion Hillary Clinton concocted to save face. She’s been dumped by Dems as Pelosi soon will be. Both turned out to be women unworthy of their positions.

        Lefties aren’t bright enough to see how supporting people like this keep them suppressed in perceived victimhood decade after decade.

        Perhaps Dems will take to the streets again and…….RIOT. For what precisely?? Egomaniacal gratification as we saw during a “serious health crisis”??? I hope they do and get frostbite along with spreading more COVID.

        All your people did is waste valuable time and more money as usual. Pelosi wouldn’t even testify or be deposed which should have done without reservation…if she were serious about her baseless, false claims.

        What have you got now? You just embarrassed and angered what’s left of your communist party. Donald is celebrating!! GREAT JOB!!!!!

    • Actual Seattle Opera patron, not some phony crank says:

      Whatever are you raving about? Seattle Opera has nothing to do with CHAZ/CHOP, BLM in a destructive way, nor with Seattle police. Why do you link this political action with our General Director making difficult decisions regarding keeping Seattle Opera alive, if not viable? Rubbish and dolts, Lucinda? That seems to be your own reflection.

  • Curvy Honk Glove says:

    “Learn to code”
    -Joe Biden
    “…go to work to make the solar panels”
    -John Kerry

  • drummerman says:

    She’s been there for about two years. Can anyone out there explain these unusual jumps up and down in Seattle Opera’s total income over the past few years: 2015-16 ($25,980,653); 2016-17 ($43,021,814); 2017-18 ($28,897,007); 2018-19 $23,890,108.)

  • JussiB says:

    Seattle and San Francisco used to put on the best Wagner productions.

    • Patrick John Gordon Shaw says:

      In THAT part of the world……..Possibly!

    • Olassus says:

      No, it was Seattle that fixedly built its reputation around Wagner’s Ring, under Glynn Ross’s and then Speight Jenkins’ leadership. San Francisco is an older and more rounded company, perhaps with an Italian slant. It has at least double the budget. Great Wagner productions are rare anywhere, if you mean the staging itself and not just the casts.

  • Patricia says:

    Considering how BLM/Antifa burned, looted, vandalized and murdered in Seattle last summer, the opera company would seem to be the least of Seattle’s problems.

    • Citizen says:

      Have you been to Seattle? You’re completely wrong about the situation. It’s a great city. Definitely hasn’t been “murdered”. But you just keep pushing your propaganda, troll. We know your type. BTW, sorry about Lou Dobbs—you were probably a huge fan.

      • Jeff Stanton says:

        Not according to the images and incompetence cited above from their own local newspaper, no. Kindly get informed before you embarrass yourself further like the disheveled, senile guy in the White House who pushes empty executive orders in the name of virtue signaling and non-enforceable.

        • True North says:

          That guy in the White House, senile and disheveled as he may be, pushed your dotard out of office. And there wasn’t a thing the dotard could do about it but whine about it like the miserable little crybaby he is. Oh, that, and also incite a violent insurrection that killed a police officer. You’ll forgive me if I don’t take a right-winger’s views seriously ever again.

        • Larry D says:

          “Non-enforceable” WHAT? Go ahead, tell us, don’t be shy. Unless you’ve gone “disheveled and senile” too?

  • Plush says:

    Just shows how shaky so many houses are.

  • The View from America says:

    A sad development, but not surprising in the least. This is simply bowing to the reality of the situation.

  • Christine Weidinger says:

    I’m so sorry, Christina. Take care. Christine Weidinger

  • caranome says:

    “Cut, slash, burn.” Except for the chief diversity officer?

  • Larry D says:

    Unfortunately Scheppelmann isn’t as easy to spell as Gelb, so she is less likely to become a target of outrage here.

  • Jonathan Sutherland says:

    Unlike Peter Gelb, Christina Scheppelmann is a highly regarded opera administrator with unrivalled experience on three continents. I am sure her decision to make inevitable staff cuts would have been taken with deep reluctance and not the cynical bean-counting opportunism evident at the Met.

    • Larry D says:

      She sounds like a saint. A truly good person across three continents. She does the same things with deep reluctance that Gelb does while cackling sardonically. (A friend of yours, perhaps?)

      • Jonathan Sutherland says:

        Mr Larry D.
        I made no gratuitous comparison to Mother Teresa Bojaxhiu nor recommended Christina Scheppelmann for beatification.
        My comments related to her proven international success as an opera administrator (something which can not be said of Peter Gelb) and the popularity, loyalty and respect she inspired everywhere she has worked.
        The perilous financial situation facing opera companies all over the world requires urgent and unpleasant decisions, some of which may not be irrevocable.
        Possibly one or two sovrintendenti may well be making massive staff cuts ‘while cackling sardonically’, but the vast majority do so with a heavy heart.
        For every Sixtus Beckmesser there are many more Hans Sachs’.

  • Seattle is 164th among cities for opera performances per year.

  • Sharon says:

    Seattle is the home of Microsoft. Can’t they sponsor the Seattle opera? It is my understanding that the Gates foundation is based on the fortune of Bill Gates. Doesn’t Microsoft do their own charitable giving?

    Note: Gates initial partner Paul (I forget the last name ) who died about a year ago, completely funded a museum in Seattle dedicated solely to Seattle’s favorite son, Jimi Hendrix.

    • drummerman says:

      Paul Allen is his name. The museum is devoted to all pop/rock music, not just Hendrix. I lived and worked in the arts in Bellevue and Renton, both immediately adjacent to Seattle. Microsoft does give to the arts — including the group I used to run — but it has nothing at all to do with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When I lived and worked in the Puget Sound region (2003 – 2011), Microsoft gave generously to nonprofits. Don’t know what they’re doing these days, though.

    • Martin Snell says:

      Paul Allen was one of Bill Gates’ original Microsoft partners.

      Simply because Mr Allen was fabulously wealthy and originally from Seattle, there was and remains no obligation for him to have funded arts organisations in the area. Mr Allen’s interests were definitely in other spheres, largely scientific and sport.

    • Patricia says:

      Charming. Has it a room about how to blow yourself up on drugs?

    • MacroV says:

      That was Paul Allen. He funded what was called the Experience Music Project and now is known as the Museum of Pop Culture. Designed by Frank Gehry (not his best work, the general consensus). The inspiration was Paul Allen’s obsession with all things Hendrix but its mission has broadened somewhat.

      Yes, Seattle is the home of Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nintendo, Boeing (whose HQ is now Chicago), and Zillow, among others. I’m sure a lot of people from these organizations support the Symphony and Opera but it hasn’t translated into tens or hundreds of millions for their endowments. The Gates Foundation is focused largely on education and global health, and it’s hard to dispute that those are worthier endeavors than the local opera.

    • Jerome Hoberman says:

      It’s not “dedicated solely to Seattle’s favorite son, Jimi Hendrix.” It’s a museum of pop culture in general — though it does have a Hendrix exhibit — is magnificently curated, has fantastic hands-on practice areas for kids, a spectacular, landmark Frank Gehry building (which is an exhibit in itself), and is certainly a place I’d take any first-time visitor to Seattle, along with the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden, and Pike Place Market. And, by the way, his name was Paul Allen.

  • PaulD says:

    I suggest they commission an opera called, “CHOP: Summer of Love”, and use that to attract new audiences.

  • John says:

    I live and work in Seattle.

    This has nothing to do with the protests, peaceful or otherwise. It is just the reality of a pandemic and not being able to host performances and generate income.

    Those of you pushing political agendas, look elsewhere.