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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Board/Governance Headlines
San Diego Opera Board Meeting Leads To Shake Up In Leadership
Angela Carone |
A meeting of the San Diego Opera’s board of directors Thursday resulted in a shakeup in the organization’s top leadership spots. Board President Karen Cohn walked out of the meeting along with a group of other members. Another board member told KPBS that Cohn had resigned. Board member Faye Wilson also walked out early, as did opera director Ian Campbell. According to sources who did not wish to be named, roughly 30 of the board’s 50 members remain active with the group.
Use Us
George Patrick McLearARTSblog
As we sat down with our Congressmen this past March during National Arts Advocacy Day, one message kept coming out of my mouth, “In my community, we don’t just ‘fund’ the arts, we use the arts.” I didn’t arrive in Washington with that phrase in my mind. I didn’t even think about it until after our “advocacy sessions,” the day before we visited Capitol Hill.

What alarms me the most about our annual trek to Capitol Hill is that our ask never seems to change— “We would like our Representative/Senator to support funding the NEA/Arts Education at this specific level.” We mention the ability to leverage the arts for economic impact, improve education, and make our lives more fulfilling, but at the end of the day we ask for money—either from the federal government or private citizens via tax policy shifts.
Plan In The Works To Save San Diego Opera
Marissa Cabrera, Maureen Cavanaugh, Peggy
The season is finished, and in two weeks the San Diego Opera is set to shutdown completely on April 29. That's the date the organization's board of directors set to cease operations. But at least two board members want to postpone and possibly avert the closing of the 49-year-old institution.
Why did management at the San Diego Opera sit on valuable marketing information?
JW AugustABC 10 News: San Diego
It was called the Strategic Planning Committee and it was created to review all the pressing issues involving the San Diego Opera, issues like what was money being spent on, where it was spent and whether the marketing program made sense. All of this information was tightly controlled by the management team, in particular the woman numerous sources call the power behind the “throne” of the San Diego Opera, Faye Wilson.
Board Meeting Leads To Shake Up In San Diego Opera Leadership

There appears to have been a shake-up in the leadership of the San Diego Opera.

Karen Cohn, the chair of the opera board, walked out of a board meeting being held Thursday afternoon at a La Jolla hotel. Another board member told KPBS that she had resigned. Board member Faye Wilson also walked out early, as did opera director Ian Campbell.

Board pursues steps to save the opera
Pam KragenSan Diego Union-Tribune
At a chaotic board meeting in La Jolla, president Karen Cohn resigns, is replaced by Carol Lazier.
Could deal to save the opera be near?
Pam KragenSan Diego Union-Tribune
A sharply reduced budget, innovative programming and a list of donors who will step up if San Diego Opera’s current leaders are replaced might be enough to rescue the company from shutdown in two weeks, a board member said Tuesday. Carol Lazier, the San Diego Opera board member who pledged $1 million to save the company on April 4, said she and others will make that case to the full board on Thursday. She said she’s “hopeful” they can persuade the panel to grant a stay of execution.
Venerable Nonprofit Makes Dumb Mistakes – Can We Learn from Them?
Rob MeiksinsNonprofit Quarterly
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is a venerable institution celebrating the best and brightest minds in the world. Its website boasts that its membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and 65 Pulitzer Prize winners it still made some dumb mistakes in the board’s oversight of the organization’s president and CEO, Leslie Cohen Berlowitz.
Nicole Paiement: The Bright New Force of Opera Parallèle
Lisa HoustonSan Francisco Classical Voice
At a time when many performing organizations are struggling to stay afloat, and others are closing their doors altogether, there’s a young company in town gaining momentum: Opera Parallèle (or OP). It has found that audiences appreciate the opportunity to see modern works that are rarely performed or brand new, with high musical standards and casts composed of world-class singers. The company’s success is a reflection of its founder, artistic director, and conductor Nicole Paiement’s commitment to taking contemporary opera to the wider audience she so deeply feels it deserves. Paiement is a guest conductor with companies such as Dallas Opera and Washington National Opera, and is on the faculties of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and UC Santa Cruz. As the director of the Blueprint Series at the Conservatory, she is actively involved in the commission and execution of new works. Later this month, she will conduct a new production of a double bill of Kurt Weil’s Mahagonny Songspiel [(1927) and Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Terésias (1944) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In June, the company will present the American premiere of Anya 17, by British composer Andrew Gorb, which contains a plot having to do with sex trafficking in the European Union. 
5 Myths About the Opera
Eduard SchmiegeVoice of San Diego
The future of the San Diego Opera hangs in the balance, and there’s been no shortage of speculation on the causes and implications of such a loss. But in reporting those circumstances, the media has helped perpetuate five myths, represented as facts. Let’s address them here, and dispense with them once and for all.
Opera Company Sings Out
Nancy King, opera singer and associate professor in the music department at University of North Carolina Wilmington along with Wendy and Jerry Fingerhut, transplanted New Yorkers and avid Metropolitan Opera fans, have started a grassroots effort to ensure Wilmington has its own performing opera company.
San Diego Opera hires Mark Fabiani to handle crisis publicity
David NgLos Angeles Times
San Diego Opera has enlisted the spin expertise of Mark Fabiani -- the former deputy mayor of Los Angeles and former special counsel to President Bill Clinton -- to handle the company's public relations as it faces mounting criticism over its decision to shut down. A PR man with a long roster of prominent clients, Fabiani was an ascendant L.A. politician during the '80s. He served as the chief of staff under L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley and also took on the role of deputy mayor. Fabiani later served as special counsel to President Clinton, advising him on the Whitewater scandal and other matters.
Bored Assumptions about Boards and Fundraising
Laura ZabelSpringboard for the Arts Blog
What Are They Thinking? Using Online Assessment Tools to Improve Board Behavior
Erin WagnerArts Management & Technology Laboratory - Carnegie Mellon
Many arts organizations want to improve the functionality of their boards. But it is impossible to know areas of board strength and weakness if the experiences and efforts of board members are not understood. And without that understanding, it is nearly impossible for an organization to discern the best course of action for board improvement. 
Operatic Drama Swells in Labor Talks at the Met
Michael CooperThe New York Times
As the latest labor talks at the Met have gotten off to their most contentious start in decades, replete with colorfully threatening emails and emotions running nearly as high offstage as on, it is beginning to look as if a little presidential intervention might come in handy again.
Can-do divas at the helm of S.F. Opera Guild
Catherine BigelowSF Gate
"Many guilds began as auxiliary offshoots of the parent company," Gockley said in a recent interview at the Opera House. "The men volunteered to serve on the board and raise the big money and the women did the cute stuff."

Founded in 1938 with 49 members who paid annual dues of $10, the Opera Guild's mission was to foster increased public interest in opera and development of an educational component to the art form.

"What's distinctive about our guild is they've stayed independent and evolved into a much more contemporary group of, predominantly, working people rather than, 'Ladies Who Lunch,' " Gockley said. "These are serious women, and a few men, who know how to get things done."
Opera board member donates million
James ChuteU-T San Diego
San Diego Opera board member Carol Lazier is stepping up. The company announced late Friday that Lazier, who is already a $500,000 donor to the opera’s 2014 season, is giving the company $1 million to allow it to explore other options and “encourage the board to rescind the dissolution vote.” The San Diego Opera’s board of directors, which last month voted to close April 14 after the final performance of the 2014 season, voted last week to extend that deadline until April 29.
The Business of Opera
Harold F. “Rick” Pitcairn IIBarron's
Running an opera has a lot in common with running a fixed income portfolio. That, at least, was one of the surprise lessons I picked up from Christopher Koelsch, the young, competent and impeccably dressed CEO of LA Opera. (Nickname: Mr. Prada.)
Chew On This: Operatic Mastication
Susanne MentzerThe Huffington Post
Opera lovers have been on the edge of their proverbial seats waiting to hear the latest about yet another company having trouble.
Drama At The San Diego Opera Enters Second Act
Angela CaroneKPBS
Directors of the San Diego Opera will meet today to address mounting concern among some on the board that they did not have adequate information — including an investigation of the opera’s management tactics — before voting two weeks ago to shutter the venerable institution.
San Diego Opera votes to postpone closure
James Chute San Diego Union-Tribune
Following a nearly five-hour emergency meeting, the San Diego Opera’s board of directors voted Monday to stop the clock on the opera’s looming liquidation.
How to Appreciate an Evening at the Opera
StaffMental Floss
If you think going to the opera means listening to a Viking wail in a language you don’t understand for three boring hours, think again. Here’s how to go further and actually appreciate it.
Musical or Opera? Stage Companies Are Drawing on Both Art Forms
David BelcherThe New York Times
When the Chicago Lyric Opera approached the company controlling rights for Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals about staging their Big Five works, it might have quietly made history. By blurring the lines even further in a major opera company repertoire, the move hints at a turning point in how opera companies and symphonies stage American musicals alongside traditional blood-and-guts opera.
Gonzalez urges SD Opera to reconsider
James ChuteSan Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is supporting a petition drive asking the San Diego Opera’s board to reconsider its decision to cease operations at the end of its 2014 season.
San Diego Opera's Sudden Demise
Janos GerebenSan Francisco Classical Voice
Nobody outside the board of directors — voting 33 to 1 on March 19 for the dissolution of the San Diego Opera this summer — seems to have known that the future of company was in jeopardy. Reports say company members and San Diego Symphony musicians in the pit were stunned to learn of the decision.
Indianapolis Opera confirms cancellation, "challenges"
StaffIndianapolis Business Journal
The Indianapolis Opera said late Tuesday afternoon that it is canceling its fourth and final production of the season in the wake of "financial challenges."
San Diego loses a major opera company: Could it happen in Chicago?
Lewis LazareChicago Business Journal
Seemingly without warning, the San Diego Opera collapsed last week. The 50-year-old opera company in America's eighth-largest city became the second major American opera company to close its doors within just the past year. The famed 70-year-old New York City Opera folded last fall.

Could it happen in Chicago too?
Chicago opera scene hits high note with loyal audiences
Mary WisniewskiReuters
The plot summary of U.S. opera in recent years has unfolded like the last act of a Verdi tragedy: New York City Opera, dead; Opera Boston, dead; San Diego Opera, on its final aria.

The Chicago opera scene, however, is all up tempo.
San Diego Opera chooses a noble death
Jim ChuteSan Diego Union-Tribune
But given the company's financial condition, were there other options?
San Francisco Opera Looks to the Future, Eyes Wide Open
Janos GerebenSan Francisco Classical Voice
Lamenting the folding of the San Diego Opera as "a tragedy," the general director of the San Francisco Opera rallied his troops this evening, but pulled no punches about the challenges ahead.
San Diego Opera will close, in 'a sign of the times'
David NgCulture Monster (Los Angeles Times)
The San Diego Opera shocked many in the arts world by announcing it will cease operations at the end of the current season, citing a tough fundraising environment and weak ticket sales.
San Diego Opera votes to fold
James ChuteThe San Diego Union-Tribune
After 49 years, opera makes surprise move of quitting after 2014 season.
San Diego Opera to call it quits at end of 2014 season
David NgCulture Monster (Los Angeles Times)

It will be curtains for the venerated San Diego Opera. In a surprising move, the company announced Wednesday that it will cease operations at the end of the current season, citing financial reasons including a tough fundraising environment and weak ticket sales. The company said its board made the decision Wednesday to avoid declaring bankruptcy and to be able to honor its remaining commitments.

San Diego Opera: Exiting with dignity — and mystery
U-T San Diego Editorial BoardThe San Diego Union-Tribune
The death of the San Diego Opera, after 49 years of world-class performances, is a shocking and tragic loss for San Diego. It is also a bit of a mystery.
Lincoln Center, other arts groups, form new alliance
Theresa Agovino Crain's New York Business
Members of Audience 360, including Carnegie Hall and Alvin Ailey, will share ticketing and customer information to help with branding, marketing and government advocacy.
Back from the Brink: How the Minnesota Chorale Bounced Back from an Orchestra Shutdown
Kelsey MenehanChorus America
What happens when a long-time relationship with an orchestra goes away—taking with it a third of your organization's income?  Shock, dismay, and then a determination to rally around your core mission.
BAM vies for City Opera's assets
Theresa AgovinoCrain's New York Business
The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The State University of New York at Purchase and the head of a small, struggling opera company have submitted proposals to the New York City Opera's board to take over the bankrupt nonprofit's assets and business, numerous sources said.
Christopher Koelsch: Bringing Opera to the Masses
Michelle McCarthyFrontiers LA
Christopher Koelsch, L.A. Opera’s president and CEO, grew up in Boston during a period of operatic drought. Through the waning days of college and into graduate school, he was thrown headlong into the sweeping pleasures and perils of opera. And once Christopher got a taste of the depth and breadth of human expression possible on the operatic stage, he was hooked forever. He now considers himself an evangelist of the power of music and theatre to enlighten and change us, and a zealot on a crucial mission for the performing arts in people’s daily lives.
For now, Gotham Chamber Opera is happy to remain small yet significant
George GrellaNew York Classical Review
The obvious question to ask of Gotham Chamber Opera is also the wrong one, or perhaps the superfluous one: Can the company fill the void left by the collapse of New York City Opera last fall?
Fort Worth Opera cutting back 2015 festival, delaying world premiere
Scott CantrellThe Dallas Morning News
Citing money concerns, Fort Worth Opera will cut back its 2015 festival from four to three productions, indefinitely delaying the planned world premiere of American composer Libby Larsen’s A Wrinkle in Time.
Ten Things Boards Do Right (Without Even Realizing It)
Jan MasaokaBlue Avocado
No matter what goes wrong in a nonprofit, somehow the board gets blamed. If the executive director embezzled money, people say, "Where was the board?" Why don't they say: "Executives are always at the root of the problem. Why don't we just stop having them?" In fact, boards and board members don't get credit for some important work they do without even realizing they are doing it.
Obama to nominate Jane Chu to chair National Endowment for the Arts
Katherine BoyleThe Washington Post
President Obama announced Wednesday that he plans to nominate Jane Chu as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts — a position that has remained vacant for more than a year.
Obama Nominates Kansas City Arts Leader for NEA Post
Tod JohnsonVariety
Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Minnesota Dance Theatre’s entire board steps down
Graydon RoyceStar Tribune
In a surprise announcement, the entire Minnesota Dance Theatre board resigned, saying “it is no longer able to serve the needs of the organization going forward.”
Feisty Opera Impresario Regrets Lost Opportunity
Anthony TommasiniThe New York Times
“I have changed,” Gerard Mortier said immediately in an interview last week at Teatro Real, the opera company here. Until recently, he was its artistic director. He may be the most fiercely avant-garde impresario in opera. But by bringing up right away, in a cheerful voice, how different he looked, he was being typically gracious.

OPERA America honors two St. Louisans in Trustee Recognition Awards
Sarah Bryan MillerSt. Louis Post-Dispatch

OPERA America, opera’s national service organization, has announced the recipients of its 2014 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award — and two of them are from St. Louis: Michael and Noémi Neidorff.

5 Things You Need to Know About Opera Before This Super Bowl
Jennifer RiveraThe Huffington Post
Some people seem to have a problem with the fact that there's an opera singer singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.... So here are several pieces of information you should know about opera before you see Renee Fleming belt out the national anthem Sunday.
Met Opera Suffers Budget Shortfall From Pricing Backlash
Jennifer MaloneyThe Wall Street Journal
The Metropolitan Opera's $311 million budget fell short by $2.8 million last year, after a ticket price increase backfired and caused attendance to drop, according to a newly released financial-disclosure document.
Surprise $500,000 gift leaves Sacramento Opera and Philharmonic umbrella corporation ‘dumbfounded’
Mark GloverThe Sacramento Bee
A $500,000 gift from the Joyce and Jim Teel Family Foundation will enable the combined Sacramento Opera and Philharmonic orchestra to soldier on amid challenging times for arts entities, according to the head of the recently merged organizations.

Read more here:
Sacramento Philharmonic And Opera Receives $500,000 Lifesaving Donation
StaffCBS Sacramento
They were on the brink of collapse until someone stepped in with a big gift just in time. The donor’s identity has been a secret, until now.

Spring 2014 Magazine Issue
  • From Gold Rush to Google
  • Before, After and During Opera Conference 2014
  • OPERA America's New Works Forum Expands and Explores
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