Portland Opera Ends the 2008/09 Season in the Black

CONTACT:  Jim Fullan 503-295-5210

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(Portland, Ore.) – At its recent season-ending Board of Directors meeting, General Director Christopher Mattaliano announced a successful conclusion—artistically and financially—to the Company’s 2008/09 season. 

“We definitely lived on the edge this year,” he commented, referring not only to the season’s artistic theme of “Life on the Edge” but also to the challenging economic times.

And yet, despite the difficult economic climate, Portland Opera finished the season with a surplus based on unaudited financials.  Complete financial data will be shared in the Company’s annual report, due out in September, following the completion of the annual audit.  This marks the 11th time in the last 12 seasons that the Company has finished in the black.

Receiving the news, the board gave particular praise to the Opera staff.  “This is a group of professionals who have worked tirelessly and effectively to continue our hard-won tradition of finishing seasons in the black.  In the face of declining revenue, they quietly and without fanfare responded to those declines with over $600,000 in expense reductions.   And in the face of these extraordinary efforts, they produced a season of opera that was absolutely thrilling.”

Recapping the season, Mr. Mattaliano pointed to many things that, when combined, resulted in the positive financial conclusion.  “We are a unique performing arts organization,” he said.  “In addition to a very committed core of opera patrons and donors, we were very fortunate to have entered the season in a strong position—a history of fiscal responsibility, no accumulated deficit and an endowment, albeit somewhat challenged during these times.”  He also noted the company’s diverse revenue streams, including rental income from the Hampton Opera Center and income from the Company’s presentation of nationally touring Broadway productions under the Fred Meyer Broadway Across America Portland banner.  The season was also buoyed by one-time grants for special projects and continued contributions to pay down the Hampton Opera Center mortgage.  These mortgage contributions, which have significantly reduced the amount of interest expense, have also put the Company on track to pay off the building’s mortgage during the upcoming 2009/10 season.

Over 40,000 patrons enjoyed the 2008/09 season, which marked Mr. Mattaliano’s sixth as General Director.  The season got off to a stunning start with what Opera magazine in London called “a Traviata to treasure” featuring Maria Kanyova and Richard Troxell.  Greer Grimsley returned to Portland for a powerful Fidelio with Lori Phillips.  The Company completed its Benjamin Britten chamber trilogy with The Turn of the Screw with Ryan McPherson, Mary Phillips, and Brenda Harris.  With a sold-out run, the Portland Opera Studio Artist production—La Calisto—moved successfully to the larger Newmark Theatre where more patrons could be accommodated and still enjoy opera in a very intimate setting.  Mark Rucker and Sarah Coburn brought the season to a rousing conclusion with their stunning performances in Rigoletto.

During the season, the Company’s touring wing, Portland Opera To Go, logged 4,500 miles in Oregon and SW Washington, taking a gleefully received, 50-minute, English language version of Rossini's Cinderella to nearly 16,000 students.  2009 marked the first year that the tour worked side by side with the Grande Ronde Community Choir in La Grande to stage an entire opera, John Rutter's The Reluctant Dragon, with Eastern Oregon University. In addition, Portland Opera To Go performed a sold-out benefit concert for the beautiful Elgin Opera House.  Portland Opera To Go was also privileged to perform for the entire, tiny town of Halfway, Oregon.

Looking Ahead to 2009/10

Portland Opera is set to open its 2009/10 “Love & Marriage” Season on September 25 with Puccini’s La Bohème.  The season also includes the West Coast premiere of Glass’s Orphée, Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, the Studio Production of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti (along with two Monteverdi works—Il Ballo delle Ingrate and Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda), and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

Subscriptions to the 2009/10 season, with packages beginning as low as $72, are still available. Regular tickets for La Bohème go on sale to the general public on August 9.

“We expect the upcoming season to be every bit as challenging from a financial perspective,” Mr. Mattaliano said, “although we are cautiously optimistic.  We trust that donors will appreciate contributing to a company that has welded a strong history of fiscal responsibility with artistic excellence.  We hope that the many changes we’ve already made, our continual monitoring, and our ability to be flexible, will allow us to finish the 2009/10 season with similar news.”