Exactly two months after a vote to shut down shop, directors of the San Diego Opera on Monday announced the show will go on.
“The public spoke, we listened, and we’re open for business,” board President Carol Lazier said in a statement quoted by U-T San Diego. “And do we have some great news to share with you.”
A 50th anniversary season will open Jan. 24 with “La Boheme,” followed by “Don Giovanni” and “Nixon in China.” Gala concerts will close the series of performances in April 2015.
“This isn’t just for 2015,” Lazier said. “We’re looking for the company to survive many years into the future.”
In a posted message, Lazier also said: “Thanks to the overwhelming support you’ve shown to San Diego Opera, the $500,000 challenge match has been met – what an amazing feat! You’ve helped us reach our initial fundraising goals, but there is still much work to be done to sustain opera in San Diego and we must keep up our efforts.”
“The opera met [its] $1 million crowdfunding goal 10 days early, and last week surpassed the $2 million mark in a drive that was primarily online,” the U-T said. “In all, the opera will need to raise an estimated $6.5 million in contributed income toward a projected operating budget of $10.5 million for 2015 (ticket sales and other earned income are expected to make up the difference).”
KPBS reported that cost-cutting measures also helped.
“Singers and other union members agreed to — or expressed a willingness to — take a 10 percent pay cut as long as similar cuts are taken throughout the company,” KPBS said. “Staff members are willing to take a 10 percent decrease in pay next year, an opera spokesman said.”
Ticket prices were lowered, too, starting at $35 per opera for subscribers and $105 for the three-opera season, KPBS said.
Her post was headlined “San Diego opera has the cash. Is the announcement of a 2015 season imminent?”
“Whatever the future of the company is, it will be vastly different from the days when the opera was flush,” McDonald wrote. “Lazier told the Los Angeles Times that a goal of four mainstage shows per season was no longer realistic. The company needs $6.5 million to mount a season (initially, estimates were at $10 million), and through donations to Save San Diego Opera and other sources, it has reached about two-thirds of its goal. Now the company is looking to close a roughly $2 million gap.”
Lazier, a philanthropist who lives in Poway, donated $1 million to keep the company afloat. She said the company will continue a fundraising campaign, with a goal of $2 million more.
A unanimous vote to rescind the March 19 decision to shut down was made Friday, but the board decided to wait until Monday to make the announcement because of the wildfires in the North County, Lazier said.
She said the opera has raised $4.5 million, including more than $2.1 million in an Internet-based crowdfunding campaign.
“These last two months have been incredibly difficult for all of us, but with commitment and leadership, we are emerging as a stronger company for the community,” Lazier said.
The makeup of the board has changed significantly since March, when opera officials lamented insurmountable financial difficulties for the closure vote. The company has subsequently cut ties with CEO Ian Campbell and several board members.
The company also will need to net around $3.5 million in ticket sales and other proceeds next season to make ends meet, according to spokesman Edward Wilensky.
The patron and donor base for opera companies are diminishing nationwide. Opera companies in New York City, Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Antonio and Orange County have gone out of business recently.
The local opera originated as the San Diego Opera Guild in 1950. The San Diego Opera Association was incorporated in 1965.
— City News Service contributed to this report.