Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sacramento Opera's 2011-2012 season saved by donors

By Edward Ortiz
Published: Saturday, May. 14, 2011 [in the Sacramento Bee]

The Sacramento Opera announced Friday that it will present a 2011-12 season. Urgent pleas in the last two weeks secured $135,164 from donors.

The company canceled most of its 2010-11 season because of an $85,000 budget shortfall. Yet some supporters were willing to come to the organization's aid.

"The situation was critical, and the timing was such that I made a decision to focus on a donation," said Laurie Nelson, a longtime subscriber and donor. "I realized then how important the company was to me."

Others, like subscriber Henry Littell, were not as enthusiastic. Littell said he was displeased by the company's move to offer semi-staged operas in the 2009-10 season and by what he called its lax standards for productions.

"I don't mind being asked for money or donating if they had been giving the audience something instead of a masquerade by cutting the quality of programming," he said. "Did they think that no one would notice?"

The Opera's board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to move forward with the new season after it met a benchmark of $122,000, Gideons said. Its initial plea had been $175,000 by early May.

"This was a vote of confidence," said Rod Gideons, general director of the company. "The board felt that if it attained the minimum it would give them enough confidence in going forward.

"Not one dime of this comes from city, county, state or federal dollars. This is totally from our constituents."

The board also approved an operating budget of $704,551, compared with $1.1 million for its ill-fated 2010-11 season. With a smaller budget, the company will move away from a focus on grand opera. Gone will be the three productions that offered two evening performances and a matinee. The company also plans to operate on a new financing model, drawing less of its operating budget from ticket sales and more from donations.

The new season will see the company producing three performances, including a co-production of Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci," with the Sacramento Philharmonic. That production will be Nov. 19-20 at the Community Center Theater and will be conducted by Sacramento Philharmonic conductor Michael Morgan.

The company's season begins Oct. 6 with a concert staging of opera arias at Sacramento's Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Its third production will be a fully staged production of Verdi's "Rigoletto" at the Community Center Theater Feb. 24-25, conducted by former company music director Timm Rolek.

[I have copied this from the Sacramento Bee to show the followup after the announcement of cancellation I printed here. Bold is mine.]

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