Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Virginia Opera pares budget

The Virginia Opera is cutting its 2008-09 operating budget from $5.3 million to $4.8 million in response to decreased revenue during the economic downturn. The Norfolk-based company, which also stages its productions in Richmond and Fairfax, had already trimmed this season's budget from the 2007-08 level of $5.8 million.

The opera company is reducing general operating expenses, reconfiguring some educational programs and adjusting its rehearsal schedules, said Gus Stuhlreyer, its general director and CEO. “While the show must go on, it would be irresponsible of us to pretend we can conduct business as usual,” he said in a prepared statement.

Noting that this season's opening production, Verdi's "Il Trovatore," drew larger audiences but earned less revenue than the 2007-08 opener, Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann," Stuhlreyer said that many patrons "are choosing seats in lower-priced sections . . . and we have to adjust for that.”

Earlier this month, the Virginia Opera announced a 2009-10 season with four performances at Norfolk's Harrison Opera House, down from five in previous seasons. The company will continue with two performances in Richmond – returning to the Carpenter Theatre (formerly the Carpenter Center) in the new Richmond CenterStage complex after five seasons at the Landmark Theater – and two performances at George Mason University's Center for the Arts in Fairfax.