Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good News from Seattle Opera’s Board Meeting

At last week’s board meeting, Seattle Opera announced that it it achieved a balanced budget for the 2012/13 season (Turandot, Fidelio, La Cenerentola, La bohème, and the double-bill of La voix humaine and Suor Angelica) and eliminated a deficit that remained from the 2011/12 season. The company also announced its 2012/13 Artists of the Year awards: Nuccia Focile, for singing the Woman in La voix humaine in May 2013, and Asher Fisch, for conducting Turandot in August 2012 (Maestro Fisch has since conducted Fidelio and the Ring at Seattle Opera).

“When it became clear that Seattle Opera would post a deficit in 2012,” said Board President William T. Weyerhaeuser, right, “the Board of Trustees announced several changes to company operations in the interests of ensuring that Seattle Opera would be in good standing when its third General Director was announced. Thanks to generous contributions from our community, including a challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and diligent planning and plenty of hard work and sacrifices by staff and artists, Speight Jenkins will indeed deliver a strong company to Aidan Lang. The deficit is retired, the budget is balanced, and the art is extraordinary. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I’d like to thank everyone who has made this season such a success for Seattle Opera.”

The positive financial results of the past season can be credited to changes such as the company’s increasing emphasis on innovation, efficiency, and partnership, growth in Seattle Opera’s capacity for fundraising, and the doubling in scale of its education and community engagement programs and the number of people these programs serve (53,846 people in 2012/13, up from 22,147 in 2011/12). But the company has also made sacrifices: it has reduced numbers of productions and performances, implemented salary cuts, furloughs, and fee reductions, eliminated staff positions, and put its much-lauded Young Artists Program on hiatus. As Seattle Opera prepares for a smooth leadership transition in 2014, from outgoing General Director Speight Jenkins to the incoming Aidan Lang, the company will continue to pursue sustainability so that a healthy Seattle Opera, now entering its second half-century, continues to benefit the community with productions like the recent Ring cycle, a resounding artistic and financial success.

General Director Speight Jenkins announced the 12/13 Artists of the Year. “The choice of Nuccia Focile delights me not only because of her bravura performance as the sole character in the Poulenc opera, but also because she has created so many remarkable characters at Seattle Opera over the years,” he said. “She is a rare artist.” Focile made her Seattle Opera debut in 2002, as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. She has returned to the company as Mimì, Iphigénie in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, Nedda, and Violetta.

Nuccia Focile in La voix humaine; click below to hear an excerpt
Elise Bakketun, photo

Asher Fisch has given us so many great performances,” Jenkins continued. “It is remarkable that the public saluted his first performance in the Italian repertory in Seattle, which is a great testimonial to his expertise as a conductor.” Fisch’s leadership of the musical forces in this summer’s Ring earned him rock-star ovations and rave reviews. For Seattle Opera, Fisch has conducted Parsifal, Lohengrin, Der Fliegende Holländer, Tristan und Isolde, Turandot, Fidelio and the Ring. He also won Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year Award in 2006, for conducting Der Rosenkavalier.

Asher Fisch; click below to hear the first Act Finale of Turandot

In 1991, Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year award was created to honor the individual singer, conductor, director, or designer who had made the most significant contribution to the success of the season. At the conclusion of the 2003/04 season, Seattle Opera began honoring two Artists of the Year for each season: one a conductor, director, or designer; the other a singer. Participating in the selection process of Seattle Opera’s Artists of the Year are members of Seattle Opera’s Board of Trustees, Annual Fund donors of $75 and more, and staff, as well as selected members of the local press. This is the company’s twenty-fourth annual selection of Artist of the Year; listen to musical highlights of every Artist of the Year HERE.

Photo of William T. Weyerhaeuser by Alan Alabastro

Share on Facebook

1 comment:

Anthony Alfidi said...

Fat opera singers must go away. They hurt performances and themselves. Opera needs more hot chicks.