SAN FRANCISCO OPERA – The Audited Financial Results

Company reports balanced budget for fiscal year 2007–08

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera Association President George Hume announced that the Company concluded Fiscal Year 2008 (2007–08 Season) with a balanced budget and surplus of $141,377 on an annual operating budget of $72,531,193. During the 2007–08 Season, San Francisco Opera presented 82 performances of 12 operas to an audience of more than 240,000 individuals both inside and beyond the footlights of the historic War Memorial Opera House.

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TANNHÄUSER – PETRA MARIA SCHNITZER (Elisabeth)
and ERIC HALFVARSON (Hermann).
Photo, Terrence McCarthy

Vigilant leadership by San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley and the board of directors and an overall increase of 6.2% in ticket income added to the positive financial results. Operating revenue grew from $30,051,610 to $33,790,223 with income from ticket sales for the main season surpassing $24,000,000. Contributions to the annual fund rose from $31,137,517 to $38,882,347 from nearly 10,000 generous donors. Leading the Company’s benevolent supporters were Company Sponsors Ann and Gordon Getty, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Franklin and Catherine Johnson, Koret Foundation, Mrs. Edmund W. Littlefield, and Bernard and Barbro Osher.

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MAGIC FLUTE – Christopher Maltman (Papageno).
Photo, Terrence McCarthy

“Since its inception, San Francisco Opera has embodied a spirit of innovation and a drive for excellence,” stated George Hume. “Our continuing success as a world renowned opera company is due to many individuals who have upheld these core values beginning with our many gifted musical artists both on the stage and in the pit; the professional administrative and production staff; a committed board of directors; an enthusiastic corps of volunteers; a passionate audience; and a very generous donor base.”

“While we are all very pleased to report a balanced budget for the 2007-08 Season,” Mr. Hume added, “we remain vigilant to the new financial realities confronting us all. We have taken immediate steps to reduce expenses in the current year by scrutinizing every area of the company, and have made significant financial adjustments to the next three seasons. These modifications are painful but necessary in order to protect the legacy and future of this organization. Our commitment to providing a superior grand opera experience remains unshaken. Additionally, our dedication to offering a broad array of community events and educational programs, and our commitment to the cultivation of young artists remain hallmarks of San Francisco Opera’s mandate.”

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MAGIC FLUTE – The Queen of The Night and the profoundly detached.
Photos, Terrence McCarthy

San Francisco Opera’s 85th season began with a gala opening on September 7, 2007 and concluded July 6, 2008. Music Director and Principal Conductor Donald Runnicles led five productions, which included the new Graham Vick interpretation of Richard Wagner’s TANNHÄUSER, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE, Igor Stravinsky’s THE RAKE’S PROGRESS, Giacomo Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY, and a new production of Wagner’s DAS RHEINGOLD. Conceived by San Francisco Opera Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello, Das Rheingold launched the Company’s new American Ring cycle co-produced with Washington National Opera.

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MADAMA BUTTERFLY – BRANDON JOVANOVICH (as Pinkerton) and PATRICIA RACETTE
(as Butterfly).
Photos, Terrence McCarthy

The balance of the repertory season, which featured distinguished conductors Patrick Summers, Dennis Russell Davies, Ion Marin, Massimo Zanetti, Sara Jobin, and Jean-Yves Ossonce, included Camille Saint-Saëns’ SAMSON AND DELILAH, the world premiere of APPAMATTOX composed by Philip Glass and set to a libretto by Christopher Hampton, Giacomo Puccini’s LA RONDINE, Giuseppe Verdi’s MACBETH, the Company premiere of George Frideric Handel’s ARIODANTE, and Gaetano Donizetti’s LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR. Special family presentations included a co-presentation with Cal Performances of the West Coast premiere of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, and The Magic Flute for Families – two-hour condensed version of the opera sung in English with dialogue – conducted by Donald Runnicles.

San Francisco Opera’s acclaimed international reputation was borne out once again in the 2007–08 Season by attracting patrons from across the Bay Area, in addition to 42 states nationwide and 23 countries around the globe.

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OLGA BORODINA. Photo, Larry Merkle. Samson and Delilah at ATT Park,
September 28, 2007

San Francisco Opera’s innovative community engagement programs broke new ground with the Company’s high-definition live simulcasts of Samson and Delilah in September 2007 and Lucia di Lammermoor in June 2008 at AT&T Park. Presented in partnership with the San Francisco Giants, more than 38,000 attendees enjoyed these two free moon-lit performances sitting blanket to blanket on the infield and mingling in the stands. Additional free community events included the ever-popular opening weekend Opera in the Park concert at Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow; performances at San Francisco’s Gay Pride Festival; and a performance in the beautiful outdoor setting of the Stern Grove Festival.

Further capitalizing on the Company’s state-of-the-art Koret-Taube Media Suite, the first permanent broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house, San Francisco Opera, in association with The Bigger Picture, launched nationwide digital cinema presentations of four San Francisco Opera productions. More than 121 cinema theaters screened performances in spring 2008 of La Rondine starring Angela Gheorghiu, Madama Butterfly with Patricia Racette, Samson and Delilah with Olga Borodina, and Don Giovanni with Marius Kwiecien.

Dedicated to nurturing the young artists of the future, San Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellowship welcomed eleven young singers and coaches into its new season. Each year, the prestigious resident artist training program provides intensive individual training, coaching, and professional seminars to talented young artists. Adler Fellows gain valuable professional experience by performing supporting roles in San Francisco Opera’s main stage productions and via numerous performance opportunities throughout the Bay Area.

Marking an important new direction in San Francisco Opera’s education efforts, in January 2008 David Gockley announced the appointment of Ruth Nott as director of education, a senior staff position designed to give education a new strategic prominence at the Company. Expanding upon San Francisco Opera Guild’s long-standing education and community partnership programs, the new division will develop comprehensive and sustainable education programs for students, adults and families utilizing both traditional and progressive methods, such as the high-definition technology made possible by the Koret-Taube Media Suite. San Francisco Opera Guild’s education programs included the Opera à la Carte production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which was presented at 135 Northern California schools in October–December 2007. Through Opera à la Carte, students in grades 3–12 have the opportunity to work with professional artists to rehearse and perform their own reduced version of a classic opera. Each year, over 50,000 young people are introduced to opera through Opera Guild programs such as Opera à la Carte and Student Dress Rehearsals.

During the 2007–08 Season, San Francisco Opera recognized three individuals for their unparalleled contributions to the Company. Franklin P. (Pitch) Johnson concluded his over nine year tenure as chairman of the board of San Francisco Opera Association in July 2008, passing the baton to John Gunn, who assumed the chairmanship on August 1. A member of the San Francisco Opera board of directors since 1988, Mr. Johnson was saluted by the Company for his extraordinary leadership and tremendous service and honored by the San Francisco Opera Guild at its February 2008 winter gala benefit. The Company bestowed the prestigious San Francisco Opera Medal to renowned soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, on the occasion of her 25th anniversary with the Company, and to San Francisco Opera Director of Music Administration Clifford (Kip) Cranna, for his more than 30 years of service.

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SF OPERA MEDAL, 2008 – To RUTH ANN SWENSON (as Ginerva, in ARIODANTE).
Photo, Terrence McCarthy

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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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