Bay Area opera plans cutbacks

The financially troubled San Francisco Opera has pared $5.2 million from its budget through layoffs, administrative restructuring and other cutbacks, general director Pamela Rosenberg has announced.

The latest round of reductions is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the company’s annual operating budget from $63 million to $47 million by the 2005-06 season. The oldest opera company in the West posted a $7.6-million deficit for fiscal 2002 and has projected a $9.2-million deficit for the current year. “San Francisco Opera was in need of major restructuring in order to bring the company’s operating costs in line with projected revenues,” Rosenberg said.

Six full-time positions were eliminated last week, none from among the company’s top administration, and two development and marketing executives were laid off last month. An additional 18 jobs have been eliminated through attrition since an Oct. 21 hiring freeze. Rosenberg has approved a $1.8-million reduction in production expenses and an additional $600,000 will come from the previously announced elimination of the San Francisco Opera Center’s Western Opera Theater tour, as well as the cancellation of auxiliary concert performances. The nine productions announced for the 2003-04 season -- down from the 12 this season-- will remain unchanged.