The Opera Is Back

January 30, 1992

One year after the Baltimore Opera found itself teetering on the brink of insolvency, that venerable institution is back in the black -- financially and artistically. A fund-raising drive raised over $1 million to retire the opera's accumulated debts. Now the company is working to build an endowment that will help stabilize future production costs.

The opera's turnaround can be credited largely to the energy of its director, Michael Harrison, and to generous support from area individuals, corporations and foundations. The company's staff and board members did a magnificent job of fund-raising, especially in the current recessionary climate. Ninety percent of support for the opera comes from the Baltimore region.

Moreover, ticket sales for the opera's first production of the season, Verdi's "Don Carlos," ran well ahead of projections -- an encouraging sign that the company's business acumen is now in line with its artistic ambitions. The opera's remaining productions this season, Donizetti's "Daughter of the Regiment" in March and Mozart's "Magic Flute" in April, are both much-loved works that by tradition can be counted on to fill the house.

The Baltimore Opera's rebound is good news for the city both in terms of the contribution it makes to the quality of life for area residents and in terms of its impact on local schools and businesses. Through its touring companies and performing theater, the Baltimore Opera brings quality programs to 60,000 students in the metropolitan area. Along with the city's other arts organizations, the opera also contributes significantly to the region's economic well-being: 90 percent of the revenues earned by local arts organizations are turned back to the local economy in the form of salaries and wages. The opera alone employs hundreds of local musicians, singers, dancers, stage technicians and production artists. Opera may always be "the extravagant art." But it is now thriving in Baltimore.

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