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San Diego Opera Closes

March 19, 2014 5:23 p.m.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with San Diego Opera's artistic director Ian Campbell about the board's decision to close the company.

Related Story: San Diego Opera Announces Current Season Will Be Its Last

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: The San Diego Opera’s board voted today (Wednesday) to close the company. Here to discuss the details is KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando.

San Diego Opera artistic director Ian Campbell says it’s important to note that the board has been looking at the Opera’s financial health for more than three years, and the vote to close the company is not a last minute crisis. So they made a decision to take pre-emptive action and not sell tickets for next season if they could not guarantee getting through it. Campbell says opera is labor intensive.

IAN CAMPBELL: We have many more people than any other theater company ever needs, any ballet company ever needs, any symphony, 74% of the budget is people, that’s where the body is buried, it’s not buried in any other item, it’s not buried in the theater rent, it’s people, people, people.

It took 288 people to bring A Masked Ball to life and even with rave reviews 25% of seats went unsold. And that hurts when opera already relies on outside contributions to survive.

IAN CAMPBELL: The company earns 39% of its budget at the box office, three-nine. The rest has to be contributed. Our weakness if you can call it that, is on the revenue side. Sales have been dropping and contributions have been dropping.

Campbell wants to be clear, though, that San Diego Opera will wind down operations upon the conclusion of its final performance of Don Quixote on April 13. An oddly fitting opera to end with since the hero is famous for tilting at windmills and reaching for the impossible dream.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.