AZ Opera ends season financially solid

2012-07-19T00:00:00Z 2012-07-19T10:03:55Z AZ Opera ends season financially solidCathalena E. Burch Cburch@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star

Buoyed by a 7 percent boost in single-ticket sales and soldout performances of "Aida" last spring, Arizona Opera ended its 41st season in the black.

The company, which mounts productions in Tucson and Phoenix, also raised two-thirds of its inaugural $7.4 million capital campaign during the 2011-12 season, said Scott Altman, general director.

Nearly half of that goal - more than $3.2 million - came from the company's share of a 2006 voter-approved Phoenix cultural bond issue to buy new buildings for the opera, Ballet Arizona and Black Theatre Troupe.

Last spring, the city of Phoenix, on the opera's behalf, spent $1.78 million of that money for the 16,800-square-foot Walsh Brothers Furniture store at 1636 N. Central Ave., which will become the company's new home early next year. The company raised another $220,000 from its February Opera Ball, "A Night At the Cabaret," featuring Grammy-winning vocalist Sylvia McNair.

Altman said part of the campaign proceeds will be used to renovate and furnish the new building; money also will be used to shore up the company's finances.

This is the company's second straight season ending in the black, Altman said.

The increase in single-ticket sales is a milestone in today's arts climate. Companies around the country have been experiencing a downturn in attendance, which makes even a single-digit uptick a success story, Altman said.

"Arizona Opera is doing a great job of getting the word out," he said. Last year that included reaching more than 32,000 people through educational outreach in schools and nearly 40,000 more through public outreach efforts. One of those programs, Community Night at the Opera, targeted young audiences; another, in partnership with the Musical Instrument Museum, will feature performances by artists from Arizona Opera productions and the company's Marion Roose Pullin Resident Artist training program.

Arizona Opera mounted five productions last year with 25 performances in all.

The company kicks off its 42nd season with Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" in October.

Also next season: Gounod's "Roméo et Juliette" in November; Puccini's "Tosca" in January; Verdi's "Il Trovatore" in March; and Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" to close the season in April.

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