Opera company ends season with 'miraculous' surplus

August 01, 1991|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

The Baltimore Opera Company, faced with an operating loss of $476,000 and teetering on bankruptcy after the 1989-90 season, has ended its 1990-91 season in the black, with an operating surplus of $41,000, the opera said.

The surplus in the yet-to-be audited statement is beyond the company's $1 million raised in pledges and cash in the 18-month "Save the Opera" campaign. Half of those funds have already come in with the other half expected by December, the general director, Michael Harrison, said yesterday.

"Our picture is much rosier than last year," Harrison reported in noting that subscription renewals continue to be strong. "We have a 73 percent renewal rate, and our goal is 75 percent." He said last year's "Madama Butterfly" and "Carmen" were the company's all-time No. 1 and 2 box office attractions.

"That we survived is amazing; that we finished . . . in the black . . . miraculous," said Lowell R. Bowen, chairman of the board of trustees. He said the turn-around was due to the fund-raising efforts of the trustees, the Opera Guild, the President's Circle for the Opera Ball, volunteers, ticket holders, staff and others.

As further signs of financial health, John R. Young, board president, said early ticket sales for the 1991 grand ball fund-raiser Nov. 9 at Stouffer's Harborplace Hotel are "encouraging" and "we have already achieved over 10 percent of our annual campaign goal" of about $1 million, separate from the "Save the Opera" campaign.

Harrison said Lisa Streight is the new telemarketing manager, directing the drive now for new subscribers. He added he was interviewing candidates for a new marketing public relations director to replace Patricia A. Kramer, who will leave Aug. 15 to become the development director of DanceCleveland in Cleveland.

The opera will begin selling individual seats a month before the 1991-92 season opener Oct. 19, Verdi's "Don Carlo" with bass James Morris singing King Philip and tenor Kristjan Johannsson as Don Carlo. Others in the opener are bass Jerome Hines as the Grand Inquisitor, mezzo-soprano Sharon Graham as Eboli and soprano Ealynn Voss as Elizabeth.

The set is by the Teatro Colon's Roberto Oswald and Anibal Lapiz of Buenos Aires. They produced Baltimore's successful "Salome" in 1989.

Other operas in the three-opera season, down from four productions, are Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment" opening March 21, 1992, with Nova Thomas and Mozart's "The Magic Flute" opening April 25 with Carroll Freeman and Kay Paschal. Four performances are planned for each production.

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