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A scene from John Adams' "Nixon in China" [photo (c) Ken Howard/Opera St. Louis]

A scene from John Adams’ “Nixon in China” [photo (c) Ken Howard/Opera St. Louis]

Although that storied operatic cliché of the sobbing final aria before the heroine’s sad demise was scripted by the San Diego Opera Board of Directors on March 19 when it voted to shutter the company, Board President Carol Lazier was not singing a farewell aria in her press conference Monday (May 19) in the plaza in front of Civic Theatre. The recently elected Lazier jubilantly announced the reversal of the Board’s March decision to terminate the company, the raising of $2,116,376 in the company’s recent crowd funding effort, and the specifics of San Diego Opera’s revised 2015 season.

“Because we have received both the financial and emotional support of the San Diego community, we have decided to rescind the decision to close the company,” she stated. “The public spoke, we listened, and we’re open for business.”

Lazier noted that over 2400 donors had contributed the $2.1 million in new money to the company, and that 48% of them were first-time donors. “Contributions came from 36 states and six foreign countries and ranged in amounts from $10 to $50,000. The median gift was $100,” she explained. To the amount raised in this crowd funding campaign should be added the $1 million that Lazier put up to get the company back on track after the March 19 Board of Trustees action. Lazier noted that another $2.5 million in donations will be necessary to support the coming season, but the financial success thus far has convinced the Board of Trustees that this goal can be accomplished.[php snippet=1]

The 2015 season will present in Civic Theatre three of the four productions originally announced in February of 2014: Puccini’s La bohème featuring tenor David Lomeli and soprano Alyson Cambridge (January 24 – February 1, 2015), Mozart’s Don Giovanni featuring bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and sopranos Ellie Dehn and Myrtò Papatanasiu (February 14 – 22, 2015), and John Adams’ Nixon in China, featuring baritone Franco Pomponi and soprano Maria Kanyova (March 14 – 22, 2015). From the initially proposed production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser, soprano Lise Lindstrom and conductor Karen Kamensek have been salvaged to participate in a Gala Concert of arias, duets, and ensembles to be held at the Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall ((April 18 – 19, 2015).

In a press release from the San Diego Symphony’s C.E.O. Edward B. Gill released Monday afternoon, the orchestra’s leadership expressed its approval of the Opera Board’s latest decision to press forward, noting that the two organizations “have a longstanding partnership, and we wish our colleagues much success with today’s announcement.” The San Diego Symphony is donating the use of their hall for the two Gala Concert performances, an act of generosity Lazier mentioned in her acknowledgement of the community’s support of San Diego Opera in this challenging time.

Lazier went out of her way to thank every union that works with the opera company by name and number, including stagehands, wigs and makeup, scenics, wardrobe, as well as the singers (AGMA) and the instrumental musicians (AFM), for their support. According to some sources, they have agreed to as much as a 10% reduction in their wages for the upcoming season, although Lazier did not state this in her presentation.

When asked who was in charge of San Diego Opera at this time, Lazier pointed out that former Executive Director Keith Fisher had been recently named Chief Operating Officer after the Board placed General Director Ian Campbell on leave from the company. According to a member of the opera staff, a new Artistic Advisor for the company has been found and will be announced by June 1, 2015, when the details of this contract are completed.

To complete the press conference on a musical note, the company’s Education and Outreach Director Nicolas Reveles led members of the Opera Chorus in two short a cappella choruses from the recent production of Verdi’s “A Masked Ball.”

Ken Herman

Ken Herman

Ken Herman, a classically trained pianist and organist, has covered music for the San Diego Union, the Los Angeles Times' San Diego Edition, and for sandiego.com. He has won numerous awards, including first place for Live Performance and Opera Reviews in the 2017, the 2018, and the 2019 Excellence in Journalism Awards competition held by the San Diego Press Club. A Chicago native, he came to San Diego to pursue a graduate degree and stayed.Read more…

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