Photo: Winspear Opera House, Dallas
As part of a careful, multi-year plan to balance and stabilize company finances as rapidly and prudently as possible, the Dallas Opera announced the cancellation of one of the scheduled productions in the upcoming “Tragic Obsessions” Season: Katya Kabanová. While this move benefitted the company in important ways and contributed significantly to both the critical and popular success of subsequent productions in the new, purpose-built venue, the change also had a dramatic impact on the number of patrons who could be accommodated at any given performance, falling from more than 3,400 to a seating capacity of 2,200. This, combined with the increased intrinsic operating costs of a new, state-of-the-art venue; overtime pay and other expenses related to the decision to perform in repertory; and a commitment to preserve the high level of artistic quality that our audiences rightly expect and deserve, resulted in sharply higher production costs for the Dallas Opera. Whereas TDO could previously accommodate patrons for a popular opera in four performances, it now takes up to six, resulting in a longer and more expensive rehearsal and performance cycle, as well as increased costs for conductors, principal artists, chorus, technicians and stage crews, based on the number of performances and/or hours worked. In short, to produce five fully-staged, world-class productions for the same number of patrons in the new, more intimate facility requires an annual budget increase of approximately $4 million above the previous $12 million level, or roughly 33%. The Dallas Opera will continue to pursue rigorous efforts to balance revenue and expenses while the economy recovers, with the target goal of completing a season with a balanced budget by 2014-2015.