04. December 2008 · Comments Off on Stayin’ Alive · Categories: Another One Bites the Dust, News

Opera Fans Get The Silent Treatment
Faced with mounting red ink, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera voted to jettison the last part of its name for the time being. Board Chairman Susan Rich said that the CSO has lost more than a million dollars in the past six years while staging 11 opera productions. The rising costs of everything from costumes to guest artist fees to stagehands and musicians have pushed the average expense of an opera production to around $225,000, nearly $125,000 more than is brought in even with generous corporate sponsorship and sell-out crowds paying top dollar for tickets. The plan is to take this year off to study ways to bring opera back to Chattanooga without losing money, including looking at collaborations with regional companies, presenting touring versions of opera, or even limiting local opera productions to every three years.

I read it here. I have to say that if dropping opera is what it takes to keep them in business, go for it. Right here we’ve lost San Jose Symphony and American Musical Theatre of San Jose. I was extremely sad to read this note today:

Dear Friends,

It’s with a heavy heart that we inform you of the demise of American Musical Theatre of San Jose. We are sorry we were not able to talk to all of you personally but time does not permit us to at this time. It has truly been an honor and pleasure to work with all of you and we sincerely hope our paths cross again soon.

On behalf of all of us here at AMTSJ…warmest regards,

Michael Miller
CEO & Executive Producer

American Musical Theater of San Jose
Ceases Operations, Effective Immediately
The American Musical Theatre of San Jose today announced that it is ceasing business operations, effective immediately. The theatre’s upcoming productions of Tarzan and 42nd Street have been cancelled although the touring production of Chicago will be performing as scheduled, all tickets will be honored. We are currently in communication with the producers of Avenue Q, to achieve the same result as Chicago.

“We received a telephone call a few days ago from our co-producer for Tarzan, which was the Theater of the Stars in Atlanta, Georgia basically telling us that they used the funds that we had paid them towards the production for other things,” said Michael Miller, CEO and Executive Producer of AMTSJ. “In essence, they cancelled the show without giving us any warning, and we discovered that the funds we had paid for Tarzan were spent on another production of theirs, which lost a significant amount of money,” Miller continued.

Added Robert Nazarenus, AMTSJ’s Chief Financial officer: “The cancellation of Tarzan meant nearly a two million dollar loss to us. The disappearance of the six figures that we paid to Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars in good faith coupled with the huge loss of revenues we anticipated from Tarzan was just too much to overcome, particularly in these economic times.” Nazarenus went on to say “Despite the harsh economic times, we were operating prudently, and had a solid strategic plan in place. We have always found a way to succeed, with quality productions, patron loyalty, and community support. This season was no different. But, when you in essence lose nearly two million dollars, it is impossible to recover. What makes this even more frustrating is the fact that this is caused by the wanton actions of another theater company.”

AMTSJ’s local attorneys, coupled with strong legal representation hired in Atlanta, are pursuing aggressive action against Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars. Miller and Nazarenus indicate that they will pursue AMTSJ’s claim to its successful conclusion. “We are devastated for this community, our staff, and most of all for our loyal patrons,” Miller said. “It is especially frustrating because of how hard we have worked, how sound our plan going forward has been, and because of the history and heritage of the American Musical Theatre of San Jose. This is a sad moment for all of us. We will aggressively pursue our claim against the Theater of the Stars to recover whatever money we can to pay the City of San Jose, our vendors and our loyal patrons for their good faith investment in AMTSJ.”

Sad, sad, sad.

The curtain fell Monday on one of the South Bay’s longest-running cultural institutions, as American Musical Theatre of San Jose announced it was ceasing operations and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

AMT officials say the decision was not prompted by the ongoing economic meltdown that affected many arts groups nationwide but, rather, by the collapse of the touring production of Disney’s “Tarzan” that the AMT was mounting with theaters in Atlanta and Dallas. Still, the company was running a deficit of more than $2 million, according to its latest tax statement, and had received a $1 million bailout from the city in 2006.

I read it here.

I worked for AMT probably once every two years. I was first call for any oboe/English horn books. (I don’t double on the other winds.) I loved it. In some ways it was like vacation for me, as so many of the shows were non-stressful. I loved playing musical theatre. In the 70’s I worked in the box office there (as it’s formerly named “San Jose Civic Light Opera”).

I will miss this. A lot.

15. November 2008 · Comments Off on More Trouble? · Categories: Another One Bites the Dust, Links, Opera

Opera Chic reports more possible problems for some opera companies. I wonder how long this will all continue.

I’ve heard from some folks in Opera Pacific, and they still haven’t gotten definite news from the company about what’s up. That’s not a great way to treat employees, it seems.

04. November 2008 · Comments Off on Very Sad News · Categories: Another One Bites the Dust, News, Opera

It appears that Opera Pacific has closed down. Perhaps it’s only for the season, but it sounds like it’s really for “good” (or bad, as I would put it).

I read it here, and will share this snippet with you:

Three days after its final performance of Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” Santa Ana-based Opera Pacific, the county’s only major opera company, announced Tuesday that it will cancel the remainder of its 2008-2009 season and will likely close down operations for good.

The economic downturn is to blame, according to Robert C. Jones, president and CEO of the company.

“All I can say is that at this moment there are no plans for next season,” Jones said, shortly before leaving the office on his last day on the job.

This is incredibly sad, and very scary news. I feel so for all those involved in the organization. I have a friend who plays in the group, and I recognize some of the other names on their orchestra roster. I’m so sorry ….