San Francisco Opera to reduce performances

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The deficit-ridden San Francisco Opera will reduce the number of its performances over the next three years in an effort to shrink the annual operating budget from about $60 million to $45 million.

''This city is just not able financially to support a jumbo jet,'' general director Pamela Ros-enberg said last week. ''We still think we can be a fabulous opera company. The amount we'll be producing is less, but we'll be doing that optimally.''

The opera company had a deficit of $7.6 million for the 2001-02 season and is predicting a $9.2 million shortfall this year.

The 2003-04 season, ann-ounced earlier this month, features nine productions, compared with 11 this season. The 2004-05 season will have eight productions.

Beginning with the 2005-06 season, the company will stage about 65 performances a year spread over nine productions, Rosenberg said.

This compares with 88 performances of 11 or 12 productions that's been the rule for the past decade.

''For the last 15 years, the San Francisco Opera has been offering too much volume,'' Rosenberg said. ''Unlike the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which does eight productions a year and can sell out 10 performances each, our average ticket sales throughout the '90s was around 85 percent.

''To me, that says that instead of doing eight performances of a production and selling 70 percent of our capacity, we should do six performances and sell 90 percent.''

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