The two companies have been discussing a merger since May 2004, according to the paper, when Donald Bernardo, the managing director of the Lyric Opera, suggested to Robert Chumbley, then the Cleveland Opera's new general director, that combining could help solve both companies' financial problems. (Chumbley has since stepped down.)
Cleveland Opera, which has a budget of $4.7 million, performs large-scale productions in the fall, winter, and spring; the $540,000 Lyric Opera presents an annual summer season of smaller stagings. Under the current proposal, the summer season would continue under the direction of Lyric Opera artistic director Jonathon Field; the Cleveland Opera's winter season might be eliminated.
The Cleveland Opera board will vote on the merger today; the Lyric Opera will consider it on February 21. If it is approved, the two companies would then seek transition funding from local foundations.