San Diego Opera gets reprieve as new president takes over - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

San Diego Opera gets reprieve as new president takes over

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Opera announced Friday that its proposed shutdown has been delayed to at least May 19 to give board members time to find ways to keep the company running.

The opera's Board of Directors announced last month that it would close because of financial problems, but the decision was met with opposition from employees and the public. The opera company was originally slated to cease operations this week, but the target date was previously changed to April 29.

The latest decision reached by the board gives opera supporters another three weeks or so to find enough money to put on even a limited 2015 season.

Karen Cohn, the board president who resigned during a contentious meeting Thursday night, estimated it would take $10 million to put on another season.

She was replaced as board president by Carol Lazier, who had been the secretary. Lazier recently offered $1 million of her own money to keep the opera afloat.

"We have a devoted staff, an energized association and a board newly focused on finding novel and fiscally responsible ways to present great opera to the city of San Diego," Lazier said. "I have been deeply encouraged by the outpouring of public support, and the genuine and enthusiastic participation by the San Diego Symphony, Opera America and the opera world. Together we can recreate San Diego Opera's future."

The opera company plans to explore fundraising options to prepare what would be its 50th season, with advice from Opera America and outside experts. A meeting of Opera Association members is being planned, and details of that meeting will be announced shortly, the statement said.

Nearly 50 full-time staff members, along with about 350 local musicians, singers and other tradespeople, depend on the opera season's five months of work, according to Nicolas Reveles, the opera's director of education.

The opera has a nearly $7 million impact on the local economy, according to Reveles. The San Diego Symphony alone earned $1.4 million in revenue during the recently completed season, and the San Diego Civic Theatre made $800,000, he said.

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, according to the San Diego Opera.

The Opera originated as the San Diego Opera Guild in 1950. The San Diego Opera Association was incorporated in 1965.

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