Bleeding Money and Personnel, Op_ra de Montr_al Nearly Cancelled Season

Classic Arts News   Bleeding Money and Personnel, Op_ra de Montr_al Nearly Cancelled Season
 
In the face of rising debt and a badly shrinking budget, the Op_ra de Montr_al considered canceling its 2006-07 season, reports the Montreal Gazette.

The company, founded in 1980, has been in trouble for most of this past year. In July, 12 of its 20 permanent employees, including general director David Moss and staff in marketing and customer service, were laid off in order to curtail a rising deficit and retain government funding. Bernard Labadie, artistic director since 2003, resigned at the end of August; no committee has yet been appointed to find a replacement.

According to the Gazette, chairman Andr_ Laurin also resigned following the departure of two board members; there was also talk of closing the company and using the C$2.2 million in annual government grants to pay off the debt. That idea never came to pass because the company would then be forced to then pay cancellation penalties to artists already engaged, negating any financial savings.

In June, Op_ra de Montr_al spokesman Daniel Granger told PlaybillArts that the company's deficit was expected to reach $C2 million by the end of the fiscal year. He was right: according to the Gazette, the company's accumulated deficit now stands at C$1.95 million, which it is hoping to reduce to C$650,000 in two years.

The company has reduced its schedule to four productions from five last season and six four years ago.

Pierre Dufour, 43, the new general director of the Op_ra de Montr_al, told the Gazette that "money, money and money" (or the lack of it) is the problem. Dufour, previously the company's production manager, was tapped to act as interim general director in June, although Granger told PlaybillArts at the time he was not expected to take up the role permanently.

Alexandre Taillefer, chairman of the board since July, told the paper that glitzy marketing efforts (while effective) were possibly too expensive for the company; ticket sales last season were also weak.

Times may be tough for the company, but the company has chosen an optimistic motto for its compaign: "Montreal Deserves its Opera."


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