By Randi Bjornstad
For those who’ve been wriggling in anticipation of seeing Eugene Opera productions of “West Side Story” in March and “La Tragédie de Carmen” in May, the news is not good: The opera’s board of directors has decided to cancel the rest of the season and “determine what changes we need to make to serve our mission most effectively,” according to a letter sent to patrons and signed by board president Barbara Wheatley.
Season ticket holders and others who already have tickets reserved for these productions have the option of receiving full refunds or donating the value of the ticket — fully tax-deductible — to help Eugene Opera meet its current obligations as it plans for its future.
TheEugeneReview.com learned several weeks ago that the rest of this season at least might be truncated, if not completely eliminated, but honored an embargo requested by opera officials not to report detailed information immediately.
As explained in Wheatley’s letter, the gap between production costs and revenue — ticket sales, contributions and grants — has been growing for the past several years, to the point that a hiatus has become necessary to re-examine the opera’s overall financial status.
However, Wheatley wrote, “The Eugene Opera Board is fully committed to restoring the company to financial health so we an do what we do best: create live opera in Eugene.”
Eugene Opera general director Mark Beudert told TheEugeneReview.com that the cost of producing “West Side Story” was particularly onerous, requiring immediate payment totaling about $50,000 to meet upfront production rights and rentals as well as personnel and facility costs.
“Eugene Opera is a really great company, but like all arts organizations, it needs solid community support behind it,” Beudert said. “We will use the next several months to communicate with the community, determine the steps we need to take to continue to provide excellent productions and establish a firm base of support as we go forward.”
Part of that process will include a series of town hall meetings that will include a full accounting of Eugene Opera’s financial situation as well as soliciting suggestions from the public about future operations.
In the meantime, ticketholders for “West Side Story” and “The Tragédie of Carmen” can call the Hult Center box office at 541-682-5000 from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for refunds or donations.