San Diego Business Journal

Opera’s Survival Gains Big Momentum With Meeting of Some Fundraising Goals

By Mike Allen Originally published May 15, 2014 at 5:05 p.m., updated May 15, 2014 at 5:23 p.m.

The embattled San Diego Opera, which was heading for liquidation a few months ago, appears to be revived.

The company announced it met a $500,000 matching gift challenge set May 9 by three key supporters, bringing its total pledges to more than $2 million from the community. Combined with a $1 million donation from Carol Lazier, the opera’s new president, the opera has nearly reached a $3.5 million goal Lazier said was needed to give the board confidence to rescind an earlier vote to disband.

The next vote is expected to take place May 19.

Helping meet the half-million dollar challenge was a $100,000 contribution from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Indians, which has made sizable donations in the past.

Opera board members Jay Merritt, Lazier’s husband, and Gloria Rasmussen, along with a group of 10 women called The Sopranos pledged to give $500,000 if the matching funds came through.

“We made this challenge because we love San Diego Opera and we believe it belongs in our community,” said Joan Henkelmann, one of The Sopranos.

The opera said it reached a $1 million crowdfunding effort May 9, with more than 1,700 individuals making contributions ranging from $10 to $50,000.

In March, the opera board voted to dissolve the group in the face of what CEO and artistic director Ian Campbell said was insurmountable financial hurdles. But the board later voted to postpone the closure twice to investigate possible alternatives. The most recent deadline date for closure is May 19.