The September edition of Opera News, the magazine for opera lovers published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, has a long, sizzling investigative piece on the demise and (hopefully) rebirth of San Diego Opera.
Ian Campbell, former executive director, comes out looking very bad, as does his ex-wife, Ann Spira Campbell, the former number-two person at San Diego Opera. Both are now gone and what they were paid on departure is still a secret that the Opera News story does not penetrate.
The gist of the article was covered by San Diego media, including the Reader. But this is a very comprehensive, well-written summary. One paragraph is revealing. After media revealed that Ian Campbell would be paid through 2017, the Campbells hired Mark Fabiani, flack for Bill Clinton in the Lewinsky imbroglio, Lance Armstrong in his troubles, and the Chargers in their attempt to squeeze money out of San Diego taxpayers. Says Opera News, "As outrage [about Ian Campbell's retirement pay] escalated, the Campbells brought in Mark Fabiani, the crisis control expert.... Weeks later, an amendment to Ian Campbell's contract, dated from 2010, surfaced, limiting his payout to the end of the calendar year of his termination. Strangely, the amendment — which seemed to address the ugliest rumors about Campbell's motives in the shutdown — had not come to light during the initial firestorm over compensation. It had been printed on a free-floating piece of paper, reportedly discovered in the back of Campbell's personnel file."
The article slams both Campbells' pay. For example, in 2009, Ian Campbell brought home $414,500 on a $17.5 million budget; the head of Florida Grand Opera made $215,000 on a $17 million budget. Ann Campbell was paid $300,000 when fundraising, which she headed, was doing poorly. Ian Campbell's insistence on staging expensive operas with big-name casts, was "probably unsustainable," says the article.
The article says that Houston Grand Opera is loaning next year's production of Nixon in China for free. I did not know that. The California attorney general's office is auditing the company's finances; that is not complete.