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Confirming what the Reader reported last evening (April 24), San Diego Opera announced today (April 25) that Ian Campbell, general director, and Ann Spira Campbell, his ex-wife and second in command, are now on leave. Actually, some kind of move like this was inevitable; the Campbells want to kill the company and the board majority now wants to continue, at least through 2015.

The board announced that fundraising options are in place. An escrow account has been set up. If a goal of $1 million is not reached by May 19, the donations will be returned to the donors. Tax-deductible donations restricted to the 2015 season can be made online at sdopera.com/moveforward or by phone at 619-533-7000 (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) San Diego Opera is also accepting unrestricted tax-deductible donations for the 2014 season.

Keith Fisher, who has been executive director of the company for the past 12 years, has been named chief operating officer.

As previously reported, San Diego Opera members will meet April 28 at 9 a.m. Carol Lazier, acting president of the board, will discuss options to preserve the company. The board will meet immediately after the members' meeting.

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eastlaker April 25, 2014 @ 12:32 p.m.

Is the $1 million needed by May 19th in addition to the $1 million Carol Lazier pledged--?

I am thinking it must be. I did read that part of that pledged $1 million went to create the OperaAmerica plan to save SD Opera.

This is good news, and I hope that the fundraising efforts will work.


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 1:01 p.m.

eastlaker: Yes, the $1 million goal has to be in addition to the $1 million that Carol Lazier pledged. Yes, this is definitely good news. I have already given a generous donation even though I may never see a San Diego Opera production again. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 25, 2014 @ 1:38 p.m.

Thanks for your gifts of reporting and monetary support!!!

I hope the SD Opera realizes how much you have assisted them in turning the tide!


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 2:28 p.m.

eastlaker: There is a long way to go. And not that much time for the company to get back on its feet. Carol Lazier does say, "The public support for the San Diego Opera's future has been overwhelming." Best, Don Bauder


aardvark April 25, 2014 @ 2:37 p.m.

Don: According to the Manchester U-T, the Campbells are on PAID leave. I'm sure they have reasons for doing that, but in my mind, that just sucks.


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 2:39 p.m.

aardvark: I agree with you. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 26, 2014 @ 6:57 a.m.

The verbal part of the support has been "overwhelming", I'd venture. How about the financial part? Likely it will be "underwhelming."


Don Bauder April 26, 2014 @ 10:28 a.m.

Visduh: Sadly, you may be right. When there is this much controversy -- and hatred -- accompanying a dispute, people can be fearful of putting up money, even though the escrow account should guarantee they will get it back if the rescue doesn't work. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 25, 2014 @ 3:39 p.m.

We've yet to see the details of the Campbell's contract, but the paid leave would forestall triggering the known lucrative buy out clause. At the start, I suspected that Ian Campbell concocted his plan to leave suddenly, after getting a better job offer. Keeping him under contract might force him to break it himself, if he wants another position. Very hard to analyse this chess match seeing only some of the pieces, but I suspect they're negotiating terms as we speak.


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 7:16 p.m.

Psycholizard: I'm almost 100% certain that terms are being negotiated, both for Ian and Ann. I just hope that the opera's lawyer is on the opera's side, rather than Ian and Ann's side. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 25, 2014 @ 3:42 p.m.

I hope that everyone who has been so vocal and critical on this blog will log in and make a donation. I have done so, and so have many of my friends. The real key to the survival of the opera is whether "ordinary people" will put their money where their mouths have been. If enough people make donations (and they don't need to be gigantic ones!), the statement will be loud and clear that we want an opera company in our community. If each of the 20,000 people who signed that Save San Diego Opera petition gave $50, that equals $1,000,000!


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 7:19 p.m.

Anon92067: What worries me is that many of the people who resigned were the biggest donors -- Iris Strauss and her husband, Karen Cohn and her husband, Faye Wilson, members of the Dow Divas, etc. Since they are dead set against the opera surviving, we can be certain they will not be giving a cent. This means the opera has to democratize, and fast. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 26, 2014 @ 12:56 p.m.

Anon92067: Another thing that worries me is that people who want to run with the Beautiful People, but haven't been invited, might be reluctant to give money to the opera, knowing it will offend the members of Dow Divas who are ringleaders in the BPs.

On the other hand, I hope there are opera lovers who have absolutely no interest in social status, and might even enjoy enraging the Dow Divas, and will increase their donations.

I would like to see some members of the Dow Divas break away and double their donations to the opera.


Don Bauder April 25, 2014 @ 7:21 p.m.

Anon92067: You can also phone, but only the hours Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Phone: 619-533-7000. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 26, 2014 @ 7:54 p.m.

Ok, I tried three times and will need to speak with someone in the office on Monday.


Don Bauder April 26, 2014 @ 9:17 p.m.

eastlaker: You tried the website or the phone? The phone isn't operative on weekends. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 28, 2014 @ 8:28 a.m.

Please try again! I had no trouble going on the first time, and making a donation. Every bit counts--and the number of donors will be as important as the amount raised. We need to show that there are many people out there (besides the handful who wanted to shut it down) who believe that San Diego deserves an opera company.


Don Bauder April 28, 2014 @ 8:36 a.m.

eastlaker: That is a real shame. I hope a lot of people didn't give up in the teeth of a website failure. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 28, 2014 @ 11:59 a.m.

Got that cleared up! Word is they are very busy, phones are ringing off the hook, and there has been good news from the meeting!


Ponzi April 26, 2014 @ 8:52 p.m.

I just watched an advertisement on T.V.for the San Diego Symphony advertising the 2014 season. It was James Bond themed and interesting. I feel it would certainly stir interest because it was a well developed theme and message.

It made me think of the boring approach to marketing that the opera has suffered the past few years. Ann Campbell was not qualified to be in charge of marketing. In retrospect it is painfully obvious she did not even know what she was doing and had just been riding Ian's coattails all this time. Ian did a good job for many years, but I feel that Ann Campbell was not an appropriate assignment and even uncooperative. The management should consider discharging her "with cause." Obviously a lot of these problems were introduced because Ian could not find himself to discharge her and he instead promoted her. The Peter Principal came back to haunt him so he tried to bury the whole error by closing the company. Looking at the big picture of this whole affair at this time and vantage point it is clear that Ann Campbell was an utter failure at marketing and Ian failed to remedy the obvious deficit of talent needed in the department the opera was most dependent upon.


Don Bauder April 26, 2014 @ 9:24 p.m.

Ponzi: Given the results, you have to conclude that Ann failed in both fundraising and marketing. Yes, the market for both was tough, but did she try different approaches?

But just don't blame Ann. Ian did not try new approaches with repertoire. He kept following the same formula that obviously was not working. And he kept pouring unnecessary funds into lavish productions. He spent $2.5 million on Masked Ball. It was a magnificent production, I am told, but only 68% of the seats were filled. Bad economics. Many more spending cuts could have been made over the last several years. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 27, 2014 @ 8:11 p.m.

OPERA HAS AT LEAST ONE PLEDGE FOR $100,000. QUESTIONS MAY ABOUND TOMORROW. There is at least one $100,000 pledge for San Diego Opera's 2015 season, according to an excellent source. The board wants to raise at least $1 million as it considers whether to have a 2015 season. (This doesn't include the $1 million already pledged by Carol Lazier, who is now heading the company on a temporary basis.) The $100,000 pledge is contingent on general director Ian Campbell and his ex-wife and second-in-command Ann Spira Campbell being gone from the opera company. The board has been raising money on a special website.

The Campbells are now on paid leave, and according to sources, their current remuneration may be a deterrent to some pledges. The members of the opera, between 800 and 900 who have given at least $100, meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Monday, April 28) at 9 a.m. at the Copper Room in the Civic Theatre. Members are expected to ask why the Campbells are on paid leave, and seek more information about the lawsuit filed against the company by the musicians' union.

The board meets immediately after the members' gathering.


Kookaburra May 13, 2014 @ 10:39 a.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


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