Palm Beach Opera Board Chairman Resigns Over Differences With Kravis Center

Classic Arts News   Palm Beach Opera Board Chairman Resigns Over Differences With Kravis Center
Bob Montgomery Jr., Palm Beach Opera's board chairman, has stepped down because of disagreements with the Kravis Center, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

"I've come to an impasse with the Kravis Center," Montgomery said. "The opera needs some more performance and rehearsal time there. Some people at the Kravis think opera is elitist. It's not. It brings sophistication and an air of the cosmopolitan, and we have an excellent opera following here."

Montgomery also said the organization needed some "young blood."

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Montgomery offered the Kravis Center a $5 million incentive to provide more rehearsal and performance opportunities for Palm Beach Opera, but his offer was declined.

He also felt that the center should focus on local and community companies, rather than outside touring productions.

Kravis Center officials responded by saying that the opera company, which already uses the venue more than any other local organization, was given more rehearsal and performance time in the off season.

Montgomery, who was also a member of the Kravis Center board, is credited with helping establish the performing arts center in 1961, and, before the economic downturn after September 11, had plans to build an opera house—at a price of $80-$100 million—in downtown West Palm Beach.

Despite the board shakeup, the opera company announced that it would like to expand regionally, with performances at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale and another venue north of West Palm Beach.

Jim Beasley, new board chairman for the opera company, said, "We'd like to try something new and different. The opera is in wonderful shape, so we'd like to look at expanding our schedule at different times of the year and at different venues."

One facet of the expansion might be symphony concerts. Bruno Apnea has recently been hired as the company's artistic and principal director.

"With the Florida Philharmonic gone, there's a huge void," Beasley said. "We already have a symphony, and all it would need is a little fine tuning."

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