In a shocking announcement, San Diego Opera (SDO) stated yesterday that their upcoming production of Massenet’s Don Quixote will be their last. The 49-year-old company, distinguished in reputation and thought to be strong in spirit, will wind down operations after the season’s final performance on April 13. “In spite of excellent financial management”, SDO’s press release cites the all-too-familiar obstacle of increasing costs, and the board’s decision to shut their doors for the greater good. CEO Ian D. Campbell explains, ““It is better to go out with dignity, on a high note with heads held high than to slip into the night, leaving creditors and community in the lurch.”
In the wake of rave reviews and 28 consecutive years of balanced budgets, the news came as a surprise to members of the cast, crew and office staff, many of whom learned of the closure through an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Sadly, this is often the case when all types of companies close, in the somewhat understandable attempt to control the initial message going to the media. But once this news was out, it traveled fast, sending ripples through the arts community across the nation. We’ve pulled some of the most useful coverage and linked to it at the bottom of this article. Click here to jump
Current and former members of the chorus, including several Listers, have expressed deep sadness at this loss, and report that the company has been a pleasure to work with, and one of few such opportunities in the area. The action will leave a void in local education, as well, as SDO has been active and innovative with their education efforts with all ages, including partnering with universities in their Student Ticket Initiative; and school programs including unusual and recently adopted “Making Connections: Music and Science”, particularly well-suited to a metropolitan area known for their biotech and scientific industries and research. This was a point of pride for the organization as well as the cast and chorus. One of our members writes,
The thing I will miss most … were the dress rehearsal nights when students were bussed in from local schools to hear us sing. They screamed and clapped for the opera singers like we were rock stars. I saw opera leads who had sung their role hundreds of times actually blush when the overpowering enthusiasm came rushing back from the student audience. It is sad that we won’t be able to inspire those students with the San Diego Opera anymore.
SDO will continue with its existing season performances, including tonight’s sold-out Verdi Requiem and four performances of Don Quixote: April 5, 8, 11 and 13. See the website to check ticket availability for these final shows.
Press release — 3/19/14, “San Diego Opera to Cease Operations After 2014 Season”
San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/19/14, “San Diego Opera: Exiting with dignity — and mystery“
Los Angeles Times, 3/19/14, “San Diego Opera to call it quits at close of 2014 season”
New York Times — Arts Beat, 3/19/14, “San Diego Opera to Shut Down”
Twitter round-up from Times of San Diego