Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoba Opera in the black despite financial stress

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MANITOBA Opera has managed to post a surplus for the 2011-12 season, despite shortfalls in ticket sales and fundraising that caused financial stress for the company.

At its annual general meeting on Tuesday, MO announced a surplus of about $41,000 on an operating budget of about $1.6 million. It was able to stay out of the red through cost-cutting and a significant bequest.

Although last season's productions of Salome, The Daughter of the Regiment and Dido and Aeneas (the latter presented in concert form) were artistic successes, they "did not resonate with all ticket buyers," general director Larry Desrochers said in a news release. "This, combined with disappointing results for some of our fundraising campaigns, left us in a very precarious financial position.

"Manitoba Opera, as is the case with opera companies all across North America, is trying to find the balance in programming popular, newer and traditional offerings that will appeal to audiences on an ongoing basis. We can't just program three blockbusters every season, or we will soon run out of blockbusters."

Season-ticket sales declined by 18 per cent from the previous season, to about 2,500 subscribers. Single ticket sales for Salome and The Daughter of the Regiment fell short of budget projections. Paid attendance for the season was 53 per cent of capacity, a drop from 72 per cent in 2010-11 and 81 per cent the previous year.

Corporate sponsorships and large personal donations declined. The accumulated deficit now stands at about $231,000.

MO's upcoming 40th season consists of two Verdi masterpieces that are in the more popular "blockbuster" category, Rigoletto and Aida. The company has already reached 85 per cent of its subscription-revenue goal.

Single tickets go on sale in late September.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2012 D2

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