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L.A. Opera calls off fall shows and projects losses up to $31 million

Stacey Tappan, left, and Raehann Bryce-Davis in L.A. Opera’s “Eurydice” earlier this year.
Stacey Tappan, left, and Raehann Bryce-Davis in L.A. Opera’s “Eurydice” earlier this year, before the COVID-19 closures.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Opera is postponing for an entire year all four productions that had been scheduled for this fall, the company said Tuesday as it outlined the depths of the financial fallout from COVID-19.

The four productions pushed to fall 2021 are “La Cenerentola,” Rossini’s comic Cinderella story; Verdi’s scathing tale of revenge, “Il Trovatore”; Richard Wagner’s epic “Tannhäuser,” which was to arrive onstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the first time in seven years; and the Off Grand series performance of “Get Out in Concert,” music performed live to a screening of the Jordan Peele film.

For the record:

2:35 PM, Jul. 28, 2020An earlier version of this article erroneously said L.A. Opera would stage director Stefan Herheim’s production of “La Cenerentola” in 2021. L.A. Opera will stage a different version of “La Cenerentola” with a different director to be announced later.

Rather than announcing a sweeping cancellation of the entire 2020-21 season lineup, L.A. Opera has opted to postpone and cancel its productions in sections, according to the latest health and safety guidelines. The fall postponements follow announcements that began in early April with the cancellations of two May shows, Debussy’s “Pelléas and Mélisande” and a concert performance of Handel’s “Rodelinda.” Prior to that, Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angel’s Bone” was canceled and later streamed online.

The company’s tentative goal for resuming in-person performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is the Jan. 30 scheduled opening of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”

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New programming for fall 2020 will be presented digitally, but the company is holding out hope that it can present performances outdoors if that is deemed safe. In the meantime, L.A. Opera’s annual gala will be virtual and will raise money for the L.A. Opera Relief Fund, which is helping artists and staff members affected by the pandemic.

L.A. Opera is in discussions with the American Federation of Musicians and the American Guild of Musical Artists about providing financial support for the more than 300 orchestra musicians and artists under contract for the postponed productions. The artists are paid per production and get no compensation when a show is canceled or postponed.

The company is grappling with the loss of an estimated $9 million in revenue for the 2019-20 fiscal year, and it expects losses for 2020-21 to run $13 million to $22 million. Payroll expenses have been reduced largely through pay cuts and reduced hours; six full-time administrative employees have been laid off, and the company expects some rolling furloughs for box office staff.

“L.A. Opera remains committed to ensuring that the burden of reductions is shared across the company in order that artists, staff and the institutional infrastructure have the support and resources needed to return to full production when permissible,” company President and Chief Executive Christopher Koelsch said in the announcement Tuesday.


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