San Diego Opera reaches $1-million crowd-funding goal

San Diego Opera patrons gather at the Civic Theatre in downtown San Diego before a performance in April of "Don Quixote."
San Diego Opera patrons gather at the Civic Theatre in downtown San Diego before a performance in April of “Don Quixote.”
(David Ng / Los Angeles Times)

San Diego Opera said Friday that it has reached its crowd-funding goal of $1 million, 10 days ahead of the May 19 deadline. But the financially troubled opera company said it wasn’t ready to announce a new season yet.

The company launched its $1-million crowd-funding campaign last month, saying that the money would go toward a new season in 2015. An opera spokesman said that the board still needs to meet to decide whether or not to rescind the March decision to close the company.

The next board meeting is scheduled for May 16, he said.

The company said it needs to raise at least $6.5 million to launch a new season. Taking into account the crowd-funding money and other donations, the opera still needs to raise about $2.7 million toward that goal.

In March, the opera’s board voted to close the company just short of its 50th anniversary. The decision caused a significant public backlash and exposed internal rifts within the board. In the weeks that followed, dissident groups of board members, employees and musicians have fought to save the company.

Board president Karen Cohn resigned her position on April 17, along with several other board members. A week later, the new company leadership placed the opera’s general and artistic director Ian Campbell on leave.


Campbell had been the subject of criticism for his role in pushing for the closure of the company. He has stated that weak box office sales and donations have made it impossible for the company to continue.

Carol Lazier serves as the board president. Keith Fisher has been named chief operating officer and is managing the staff and resources of the company.

Lazier has already donated $1 million toward the effort to save the company and to rework its mission. She has stated that the opera’s recent slate of four mainstage productions per season was no longer economically feasible.

Also on Friday, a group of opera donors announced a $500,000 matching gift challenge, which could add another $1 million to the company’s coffers.

The matching-gift challenge was put forward by board members Gloria Rasmussen and Jay Merritt, with a group called the “Sopranos,” an investment group of 10 women, the company said.

[Updated]: A previous version of this post referred to Carol Lazier as the opera’s interim board president. The correct title is board president.