San Diego Opera is Worth Fighting For

Mezzo-soprano Anke Vondung is Dulcinea in San Diego Opera's DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard.

Mezzo-soprano Anke Vondung is Dulcinea in San Diego Opera’s DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard.

“Go not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 
Dylan Thomas

San Diego Opera Moves Forward

San Diego Opera Moves Forward:

Alternative models of Opera in America
A Town Hall Meeting
 Hosted by Nicolas Reveles
THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014, 
4:30PM

San Diego Civic Concourse, The Copper Room
Downtown San Diego

SPACE IS LIMITED and RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED:

Click here to register.

Join us to discuss the future of San Diego Opera by looking at ways other cities have ‘turned the corner’ on financial difficulty with energy and success.

Panelists Will Include:
Marc Scorca
President and CEO, Opera America
David Devan
General Director, Opera Philadelphia

PRESS RELEASE of  Thursday, April 10

AN UPDATE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF THE SAN DIEGO OPERA

As the San Diego Opera’s Board continues to work with the community to determine a viable way forward for opera in San Diego, I thought it was time to update you on our progress and set forth the four principles that are guiding our actions:

Ø First, every single one of us wants to save opera in San Diego. To be sure, there are disagreements about how to best accomplish this goal, but what is most important is that we all share this same goal. We are exploring every possible idea for creating an economically sustainable way to preserve the current Opera Company in some form. And if that proves to be impossible, we all stand ready to do whatever we can to help preserve opera in a new form for San Diego.

Ø Second, no matter what decision is reached at the end of this process, we are determined that the reasons behind that decision are as publicly transparent as possible. That is why we are creating a Digital Library at SDopera.com/Library, where we will make available the key documents that bear on the future of opera in San Diego. We invite all interested members of the public and the media to explore this Library over the coming days as our process continues and as we provide more and more background material.

Ø Third, we are also committed to answering the important questions being asked by the community. In particular, we want to put to rest the notion that somehow key Opera employees will benefit from the potential shutdown of the Company. The Board has been advised again and again by its lawyers that Ian Campbell and Ann Spira Campbell, will both leave the Company’s offices with no payments whatsoever if we close, and that whatever claims they have will be resolved through the liquidation process along with all of the other unsecured creditors. To provide assurances to those who are concerned about this issue, the Board is placing in the Digital Library a statement from the Board’s lawyer that addresses this issue directly.

Ø Finally, we pledge our commitment to complete this process for reviewing alternatives as soon as we possibly can, and to do so with completely open minds about what might be possible for the future of opera in San Diego. We will continue to update the community as the process moves forward.

Don’t be passive. The Opera is worth fighting for.

Massenet’s Don Quichotte (as it is known in multilingual areas of the world)

The Excellent Cast
Don Quixote: Ferruccio Furlanetto
Sancho Panza: Eduardo Chama
Dulcinea: Anke Vondung
Rodriguez: Joel Sorensen
Juan: Simeon Esper
Pedro: Micaëla Oeste
Garcias: Susannah Biller
Ténébrun Chief Bandit: Hervé Blanquart
Four Bandits: Chad Frisque, Michael Blinco, Anthony Ballard, and Joseph Grienenberger
Two Servants: Clifford Derix, Joshua Vincent

(L-R) Soprano Susannah Biller is Garcias, tenor Joel Sorensen is Rodriguez, soprano Micaela Oeste is Pedro, and tenor Simeon Esper is Juan in San Diego Opera's DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard.

(L-R) Soprano Susannah Biller is Garcias, tenor Joel Sorensen is Rodriguez, soprano Micaela Oeste is Pedro, and tenor Simeon Esper is Juan in San Diego Opera’s DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard.

Conductor: Karen Keltner (who has always been treated like chopped liver here in San Diego — but last night she received very warm applause from the audience)
Director: Keturah Stickann (Very nice work. Captured the romanticism of the piece perfectly.)
Choreographer: Kristina Cobarrubia (Wonderful work at giving us authentic seeming Spanish dancing.)
Scenic Designer: Ralph Funicello
Costume designer: Missy West
Lighting designer: Marie Barrett
Wig and makeup designer: Stephen Bryant
Chorus master: Charles F. Prestinari

Bass Ferruccio Furlanetto is Don Quixote in San Diego Opera's DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard

Bass Ferruccio Furlanetto is Don Quixote in San Diego Opera’s DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard

We are supposed to accept that San Diego cannot have an opera. Our noble leader has decreed this — even though he was booed lustily by some rude members of the audience Saturday night. The opera was Massenet’s Don Quixote and featured one of the great bassos in the world of opera.

The show was good.  I’ll try to pull myself together to review the very last performance Sunday. Opening night, the dancers, the chorus and orchestra were fine. I think everyone should see this fine production inasmuch as it will most likely be your final opportunity to see a home-grown opera in Civic Theater.

The official ‘informed’ view of this cultural catastrophe, namely the end of the San Diego Opera is — well, bye-bye! So, so sad. But don’t be angry about it. Just accept it.  For God’s sake do not express anger or frustration. That would be uncouth and unseemly. Ian Campbell has been a Noble Leader. The fact that this hitherto capable Captain crashed his ship onto the rocks is just unfortunate. We are supposed to feel deeply sorry for him. (I am not making this up.) Poor, poor Ian who has brought us so many year of success and balanced books. So, now he’s wrecked the Costa Concordia. But forget the wreckage and the loss of our community. Just feel compassion for the courageous man. All you SDO employees — abandon ship!

Siding with management and feeling contempt for labor is a San Diego thing. Not something than comes easily to me. I am not a millionaire.

Bass Ferruccio Furlanetto is Don Quixote and bass baritone Eduardo Chama is Sancho Panza in San Diego Opera's DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard.

Bass Ferruccio Furlanetto is Don Quixote and bass baritone Eduardo Chama is Sancho Panza in San Diego Opera’s DON QUIXOTE, April 2014. Photo copyright Ken Howard.

SAVE THE SAN DIEGO OPERA ONLINE PETITION

I am not especially hopeful because I have read about the financial problems and I see the lack of true local interest too clearly. San Diego may not want an opera. But I want to help those who still believe! I mean, we live in a town where KPBS television makes jokes about “the fat lady stops singing” when discussing this cultural disaster! I may vomit!

THE BIG SFO to SDO TRANSITION IN 1965. I remember it if other people do not. I was there! Civic Theater was built, San Diego Opera started up in that venue and the fabulous San Francisco Opera visits retreated forever! 1965 saw SDO’s ‘La bohème.’ That same season was San Francisco’s last. I saw the SFO present ‘Lohengrin’ with fabulous Jess Thomas and ditto Hildegard Hillebrecht; ‘La fanciulla del West’ with FRANCO CORELLI and the super-brilliant Marie Collier (now unjustly forgotten because of her untimely death); and an all-star ‘Die Fledermaus’ with Thomas Stewart, Mary Costa, Richard Lewis, Brian Sullivan and Patricia Brooks. That was a year of transition. Now — NOTHING. Thanks so much Mr. Big Shot! A transition to nada, zilch. Just great! We will wring our hands and say “Oh how sad” because we Americans do not know how to do **anything** anymore. If we went to the opera, we would have to drive over collapsing infrastructure and fall off a bridge. Welcome to the Third World.

Please leave comments below! There’s a place to do that.

A friend and colleague writes:

“This isn’t just about the few hundred people who will lose their jobs if San Diego Opera shuts down on April 14. There are thousands of opera professionals around the world who have worked on the stage in San Diego, been inspired by or learned from the operas presented and the outreach to school children over the years.

“There are thousands of regular folks who buy seats in the balcony because they love opera. Hundreds of restaurants and hotels in the area will be affected, too, not just from the audience who comes in but the performers and creative teams who spend three or four weeks at a time in San Diego, often with their families.

“Please sign the online petition and see if the Board won’t reconsider its decision.’

Ian Campbell’s curtain speech captured by someone in dress circle (I am guessing) with a video telephone. Though there was much booing, this tape starts late and captures mostly the applause of Campbell loyalists.

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