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"We have improperly been denied information," says a key board member of San Diego Opera. On March 28, eight board members of the opera sent a letter to opera director Ian Campbell and Chairwoman Karen Cohn, demanding that information be provided. The letter went out to other board members, too. The letter stated that pursuant to opera bylaws, and California Corprations Code sections 6334 and 8334, the information had to be provided. But it has not been provided as of today (April 2). I got the same information from a second source.

The letter asked for information on pro forma cash flow, company liabilities for the remainder of 2014 and on to 2017, other detailed information, and, in particular, documents that were used to come to the abrupt conclusion that the opera had to shut down. The March 19 decision to disband (which was not revealed in the agenda) "was rammed down the throats of a board culturally conditioned to say 'yes' to leadership (Ian and Ann Campbell)," says the main source of this item. This source noticed the stark opinion change of the board: "We went from 33 to 1 [for dissolution] to 34 to 5 [to extend the go/no-go date until April 29.]" A special committee is supposed to review the matter — but board members still do not have the information they asked for. "I was disappointed that we did not move to rescind the vote to dissolve, but other board members are comfortable moving in steps."

Some media have reported that the opera must raise $10 million by April 29, or the closure goes ahead. But this source says that is not true; the board did not say that.

This source, along with this reporter, are disturbed that Cohn and her allies are putting out a noncredible story about Ian and Ann Campbell's potential termination/retirement pay. Cohn told me initially, and told others, that Ian and Ann Campbell would not get one penny upon the dissolution of the opera. But in a Union-Tribune op-ed, she said that the Campbells would be able to get in line with other creditors. Those two statements are contradictory. This source believes that Ian and Ann Campbell could get $3 million on the death of the opera. This source wonders if the Campbells' desire to "monetize their severance" was a factor in the quick move to shut down the opera.

At the meeting prior to March 19, the discussion focused on singers for the 2015 season. There was no mention of shutting down. Similarly, the staff was working on the 2015 season right up to the day before the dissolution announcement.

This source also was not aware of the complaint about a hostile work environment. Seven senior staff members were interviewed about the charge. It was decided that there was not sufficient evidence to prove a hostile work environment, but that the management style of Ian and Ann Campbell would be investigated. The staff has heard nothing about that since. That was revealed here in a post on Saturday, March 29, and by KPBS Monday, March 31.

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eastlaker April 2, 2014 @ 8:30 p.m.

I did hear that there is another law suit brought by employees stating that they were not informed of the fiscal problems as they should have been.

So if the members who requested the information do not receive what they have requested, what is the next step?

Banks can't erase information; lawyers cannot destroy evidence...but I do know sometimes people say they are unable to locate files, or say that something must have been misplaced, or some sort of nonsense.

If the board members who are remaining blindly loyal to Ian and Ann Campbell have hurt feelings due to the public outrage, it will only get worse if there is no cooperation with those trying to find out where things went wrong.

People do make mistakes, but responsible people try to correct mistakes, improve things and continue getting the job done. There is no excuse for anything else.

If people are truly tired of being on the board, let them depart, and let those remain who want to keep opera in San Diego.


Don Bauder April 2, 2014 @ 9:17 p.m.

eastlaker: A third source has told me that one of the eight signers of the March 28 letter is now negotiating with the opera's lawyers on what information will be released. I don't know why there are negotiations; these board members have a right to all the information they sought.

Meanwhile, ponder this. For a column I did on February 11, 2009, Ian Campbell told me of the dismal outlook for coming years, and how he was making cuts, such as going from five operas to four.

For that 2009 season, then underway, Ian and Ann Campbell's combined salary was $972,860. The next year, in which other costs were being cut, the Campbells' combined salary was $1.05 million.

In that 2009 interview, Campbell told me that attendance had been dropping for three years and giving had fallen off. The opera now says it pondered its economic problems for three years before it decided to dissolve. But from what Campbell told me in 2009, it should have been pondering its fate -- and planning alternative strategies -- for eight years.

Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 3, 2014 @ 1:13 a.m.

Eight years is a long time to watch things get worse--but we can't go back in time, so we need to correct what we can and go forward. Few people enjoy telling bad or difficult news--but now that the news is out, it would be great if all the financial info could be shared with those board members who are requesting it.

And I think it is time to name an acting director. There must be someone who knows enough to step in, or did the Campbells run such a closed shop that there is no one who knows enough?

Time to remove the Campbells from access to computer records and paper records. Even if they would never touch anything, it is better to ensure that they haven't interfered with the process of untangling and reorganizing.

I do not think the SD Opera will disappear or go away, but it will have to undergo a rebirth of sorts. It would be so much better if defensive postures played no part.


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 6:29 a.m.

eastlaker: It's my understanding that there is a small clique around Ian and Ann -- including a few key board members -- that has been controlling the information flow, as well as making decisions, such as for salaries. So those who have a solid grasp of the workings are lined up with the Campbells.

Bottom line: hiring an acting director from the outside could be difficult. I hope I am wrong on that. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 2, 2014 @ 9:45 p.m.

Transparency is one of the hallmarks of an excellently-run nonprofit organization. If nothing has been done incorrectly or unethically, then every single document that the Board members requested should have been provided to every single member of the Board. They are the ones with fiduciary responsibility. Why would a lawyer be intervening in terms of what documents "should" be released? All of them should be released! That doesn't mean that they all need to be given to the public, but the Board would be shirking its duties not to have full and transparent knowledge of the back story behind the abrupt closing of our community's 2nd largest performing arts organization.

One must wonder: If the opera season had to be cut 20%, from 5 to 4 operas, then the true leader would have cut his or her salary by at least 20% at the same time. From what you are reporting, in fact the Campbell's got a small increase instead. What kind of leadership is that? And what kind of patsys are on that Board, anyhow? Surely they approved those increases while seeing the opera budget drop?


Don Bauder April 2, 2014 @ 9:57 p.m.

Anon92067: I agree. It is shameful that the Campbells upped their combined salary when the company was going downhill and having to make cuts in many areas. The committee of the board that sets salaries should never have let this happen. Where was the audit committee?

If board members continue to complain about the negative press the opera is getting, they should resign. Who caused the negative press? They and the administration did by doing little for eight years, then suddenly acting without releasing sufficient information to the public. Indeed, the administration hasn't given sufficient information to the board. Best, Don Bauder


ArtsAnon April 2, 2014 @ 10:20 p.m.

If the leaders of SDO refuse to work with their board, then they need to be removed by the board. I'm somewhat surprised that there hasn't been a stronger voice coming from the original signers of the petition for the leaders' ouster. If I was on the board, I'd be concerned that the staff would look at the upcoming production of Don Quixote as their last bit of leverage to get done what needs to be done to allow the company to move forward.


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 6:34 a.m.

ArtsAnon: Those eight signers have been working diligently, I understand. And I repeat: the signers aren't the ones who kept their names secret. I did, because of a journalistic ethics question. I hope to clear that up and release their names. I had expected other media to do so. Best, Don Bauder


edprice April 6, 2014 @ 8:08 p.m.

The Board sounds like it's been on autopilot for years, with many members appearing to be dilettantes or social climbers. My guess would be that such a go along / get along group would probably have handed out sweetheart contracts to management. Now that part of the Board has roused itself, they may well find that they have very little leverage over management. This recent demand for documentation is prime evidence that oversight has been sorely lacking for a long time.


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 10:24 a.m.

edprice: There is no doubt that oversight by the complete board has been lacking for decades. The small group around the Campbells, supposed to provide oversight, let certain key things, such as the Campbells' pay, go. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 2, 2014 @ 10:52 p.m.

As someone with some knowledge of the what happens at the opera - eastlaker - there is no lawsuit by the staff of the opera. But things are untenable and the staff has received no direction on how to prepare for the 2015 season. There is no leadership from the Campbells who I am told are avoiding staff and barely speaking.

ArtsAnon - the staff, crew and cast are the most professional people in the world and would never do anything to affect the art, artists or the ticket buyers experience in the theatre. They sense urgency, and are frustrated as hell, but rest assured they treat the stage like a temple and would never use it further their cause. They would be delighted to meet and talk with opera goers to address their anger and concern and will be inviting dialogue about what the future may hold before and after each performance.

Don - finally, keep up the good work. Many on the staff look to you for information as none comes from management.


eastlaker April 3, 2014 @ 12:59 a.m.

I have better information now, which is what all of you probably know: that the American Guild of Musical Artists, has two charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board against the SD Opera. The first, that SD Opera did not "provide the union with information related to its financial condition" ; the second, that "the opera has refused to engage in bargaining with the unions over the effects" of the dissolution.

This info is from the UT.

So--someone is needed to spearhead the people who want solutions.

Now things almost resemble a Pirandello play. Instead of 6 characters, there is an entire company, and instead of searching for an author, they are searching for a leader.

(Also, just want to add that it wasn't easy for me to find this article in The Reader, but maybe now that it is getting more traffic, it will appear as a choice on the sidebar?)


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 11:32 a.m.

eastlaker: I was not aware of the two charges by the labor unions. Anything that will prolong this is good, because the handful of people in charge of everything want to get this done quickly and cleanly. Already, they can forget about the "cleanly."

The easiest way to find my Reader articles on the opera is simply to google "don bauder." The first thing to pop up is titled Don Bauder/Staff/San Diego Reader. You can pick up columns and blog items going far, far back in the past. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 6:39 a.m.

Opera Buff: I am not aware of any lawsuit by the staff, either. I think certain board members could have a good lawsuit if things go as they are going. A lawsuit or investigation by the City could keep the issue from being buried, as the opera administration hopes will happen. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 3, 2014 @ 12:32 a.m.

Sad when the guesswork on this blog is more accurate than the statements of those who have the figures at their fingertips, because they have the intent to deceive. There can be no other reason for denying board members access to the books. We can only speculate on the most important issue, what remains of the Opera's assets, and what is intended for them. One of those assets is the Opera's scenic shop, and the sets, props and costumes in inventory. Unlike the Opera as a whole, this part might possibly be run at a profit, and is currently renting out productions to other Operas. Their advertising is enlightening. http://www.sdoperascenicstudios.com/Home/ What is intended for this Opera asset might explain some of the strange conflicting statements and evasions we've been subjected to.


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 6:45 a.m.

Pscholizard: I have a hunch, as someone who has reported on private sector scams for half a century, that there is some piece of information that the administration does not want to get out. That piece of information should be a matter of record to board members, and perhaps to the public at large, but is being concealed because it is a key to why this has been handled so rapidly and secretly. Again, that is just a hunch. Best, Don Bauder


SDsince2008 April 3, 2014 @ 6:11 a.m.

Happens often in non-profit organizations... board members often don't know their power and authority (responsibility) and just go with the flow... until it's too late. I can think of other shady practices occurring right now in San Diego non profit arts organizations -- such as funding PRICEY retirements for their "Top Dog" all the while begging for more "free" money from the gvmt and donors, and providing barely survivable wages to staff, and using volunteers to do lots of leg work. #TSK

I also believe arts organizations have it wrong by upholding a business model reminiscent of Big Corporations - ie- Top Dog gets paid the triple digit salaries, whilst others scramble for breadcrumbs, often doing all the hard work the actual "business" requires.

Ian and Ann are not exemplary leaders by any stretch of the imagination -- the gig is up!

Hopefully this opens doors to more EMPOWERMENT of board members in San Diego to do their due diligence... ie- stop propping up triple digit salaries and business models that exploit volunteers, interns and under-compensate staff, let alone practices that keep board members from engaging their roles & responsibilities.




Marc Emmelmann | www.FalcoStrategics.com Former GM/ED of San Diego Performing Arts League (2009-2011) Former Co-Chair of Actors Alliance of San Diego (2012) Former Advisory + Marketing Chair of the San Diego Fringe Festival (2012 - 2013)


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 6:50 a.m.

SDsince2008: Yes, board makers of other San Diego nonprofits should watch this opera misadventure closely. There are sober lessons therein. And you are right that the boards of private sector companies have made the same mistakes. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK April 3, 2014 @ 8:35 a.m.

seems like a stalling tactic, more time do destroy or falsify info


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 11:34 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Those not providing the information, and insisting on "negotiating" with board members wanting that information, indeed appear to be using stall tactics. We will have to see. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 1:37 p.m.

Murphyjunk: It certainly appears that way. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 1:40 p.m.

Martha Jane Weaver: Thus far, the picture does look disgusting. Maybe there will be a plausible explanation to all this dubious activity. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK April 4, 2014 @ 8:04 a.m.

they do have plenty of time to fabricate a plausible explanation


Don Bauder April 5, 2014 @ 1:59 p.m.

Murphyjunk: Actually, they only have until April 20, according to the last vote of the board. That is not a lot of time. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 3, 2014 @ 2:22 p.m.

Ian Campbell has freelanced as director for other Opera companies while Director of San Diego Opera, I don't know when or how often, but this should be considered when evaluating his salary. If his fees were slushed together with set rentals, that would be interesting also.

The dissolution seems more likely opportunistic rather than well planned or a response to sudden unexplained disaster. The opportunity might be the separation of the acclaimed production studio from the Opera company that has been bled dry to create it. Ian Campbell may intend to fly around the world directing productions created for a defunct San Diego Opera. He could have an offer from another company also, undoubtedly he would deserve such an offer if the books are in order. Why not show the books?


Don Bauder April 3, 2014 @ 6:10 p.m.

Psycholizard: I don't remember that Ian Campbell produced operas for other companies in the 20 years I was there during his reign. Possibly he did. But doing this is not shocking.

When he leaves, I don't know that he will be directing productions around the world. His handling of the abrupt proposal to close SDO has not made him popular in the opera world. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 4, 2014 @ 12:34 a.m.

The production shop would be a simple way to juggle the books, by keeping stored productions on the books as assets, whether they could be rented out or not. The problem might be that the productions are worthless, and the book value the stuff of dreams.

I'm thinking that my concern to save the physical assets might be misplaced, perhaps it's better to start new. If the Board and Management won't get out of the way by resigning, perhaps it's better to give up on the whole company. The money still left will likely go to lawyers or in the fulfillment of fraudulent contracts.

Seems like money once again has brought everything crashing down, but I promise you somewhere a young woman is learning a Lorelai's chant, so beautiful that anyone with a heart must turn away from greed towards love. That magic song doesn't work on everyone, perhaps doesn't last forever, but it's outlasted almost every currency, nation and corporation. Ars langa vitae brevis.


Don Bauder April 4, 2014 @ 5:52 a.m.

Psycholizard: Accounting for the value of the production shop could be slippery and must be watched. I do not know how well it has done. It built sets for such operas as Butterfly and Don Pasquale. It should not be difficult to find if these and other sets brought in rental income above what was spent. But costs could be hidden, other accounting abuses employed. The audit committee should have been keeping a close eye on this. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 4, 2014 @ 9:30 p.m.

OPERA BOARD MEMBER GIVES $1 MILLION, WANTS VOTE TO DISBAND RESCINDED AND COMPANY TO SEEK OUTSIDE HELP TO COME UP WITH SURVIVAL OPTIONS. Barbara Lazier, a board member of San diego Opera, today (April 4) gave $1 million to the opera. "I gave the money to encourage us to rescind the dissolution vote as soon as possible," says Lazier.

"My gift is being given as a challenge to the board of directors in order to give us some time and resources to consider and explore realistic options from experts in the field whom we can find through Opera America," says Lazier.

She adds, wisely, "Having four full-scale products is clearly unsustainable in our community. What would a re-tooled and financially stable season and company look like?" She would like to see a company with "new fundraising methods, new repertoire, new cost saving measures and an inspired future." She doesn't mention whether this would require new administrative leadership.

I have spoken to other board members who agree with her sentiments.

"This gift is to be used to explore other options -- anything other than ceasing operations after 49 successful years," says Lazier. "Perhaps this is the blessing of a near death experience -- the capacity to nurture this new life we have been given."

The test will be how many other opera board members -- and others in the community, follow Lazier's lead.

Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 4, 2014 @ 11:53 p.m.

Carol (not Barbara) Lazier has made an incredibly generous gift, and courageously challenges her fellow Board members to do the right thing by exploring options other than dissolution. But sadly, apparently no "planning" committee has yet been named--it is as if the powerful at SDO want to just stand back and let the company die. Where is the urgency? Where are the heartfelt solicitations to the public to make contributions? It is as if Mrs. Cohn and Ian Campbell only want $10,000,000 and from those who are very rich--but they never have really asked us "ordinary folks" to step up--hey, $50 gifts from 100,000 people would equal $5,000,000--not chump change! But SDO has to ASK!


Don Bauder April 5, 2014 @ 9:06 a.m.

Anon92067: Mea maxima culpa. Her first name is Carol, not Barbara. I posted that late at night when I was tired.

I think the handful of insiders that run the opera pursued an understandable but ultimately self-defeating strategy. They did not want to tell people that if they didn't give, the opera would die. There is an old statement in business: if you talk about possible bankruptcy, you are already in it. Lee Iacocca disproved that axiom at Chrysler.

It is pretty clear now that the opera should have explained its problems to the San Diego public several years ago. It is also clear that as many as five or six years ago, the opera should have been pursuing other strategies in marketing and repertoire, as Lazier points out. There could have been many more cuts; Ian and Ann Campbell took too long to cut their own bloated salaries, and then didn't cut them enough. The number of operas could have been cut more severely -- say, down to two. The company didn't have to go with Tier 1 stars all the time, such as Furlanetto. Often, Tier 3 singers suffice.

The opera can be saved -- but perhaps not with the current administration and the sycophants around it. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 5, 2014 @ 9:07 a.m.

ArtsAnon: Agreed. Now it is time for others to come forward, too. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 4, 2014 @ 9:52 p.m.

Don, Carol. Carol Lazier. Not Barbara ;-) Thanks!


Don Bauder April 5, 2014 @ 9:07 a.m.

OperaBuff: I have already eaten humble pie on that blooper. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 5, 2014 @ 9:51 a.m.

This is great news, and I hope it will call out to others. The value of this gesture is enormous, above and beyond the monetary! Thank you Carol Lazier!!


Don Bauder April 5, 2014 @ 2:01 p.m.

eastlaker: Now it is time for others -- not just board members -- to empty their pockets to save the opera. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 6, 2014 @ 7:12 p.m.

Crowd-source some funding? In a way that would ensure that the Campbells and the current board have no control?


Psycholizard April 5, 2014 @ 10:42 a.m.

Until the books are opened, no one outside the Board and overcompensated employees should donate to this San Diego Opera, no one can know where the money will go. Gestures like Ms. Lazier's, from a board member, give hope that the organization might reform without dissolution, but NO ONE SHOULD EVER DONATE TO AN ORGANISATION WITHOUT TRANSPARENT BOOKS.


Don Bauder April 5, 2014 @ 2:03 p.m.

Psycholizard: There are two main desires, then: 1. open books and 2. money. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 5, 2014 @ 3:01 p.m.

The next step is simple, but we may find the books are complicated. There is something really farcical in denying the Board access to the figures.


eastlaker April 5, 2014 @ 6 p.m.

So what would be the next logical step?


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 10:30 a.m.

eastlaker: The logical next step is to delay the dissolution until the books can be thoroughly checked, and the possibility of a two-opera season, along with other cost cuts, examined. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:27 a.m.

Psycholizard: The San Diego Opera's books should not be complicated, particularly compared with, say, the Metropolitan Opera's books. However, as you well know, almost any books can be made complicated if there is something to hide. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 6, 2014 @ 10:22 a.m.

All happy ledgers are alike, each unhappy ledger is unhappy in it's own way.


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:29 p.m.

Psycholizard: It's called ledger-demain. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 5, 2014 @ 11:25 p.m.


Handed out at tonight's DON QUIXOTE (where Ian made a curtain speech and was heckled and boo'd)...

Thank You for Fighting for San Diego Opera

Thank you so much for your support. As we navigate these waters together, below find answers to your frequently asked questions.


Yes, San Diego Opera can be saved but it will take time, vision and commitment from everyone involved. All aspects are being looked at and we hope to have a plan in place very soon for the 2015 season and beyond.


It will probably be far less than the $10 million number you’ve heard in the press, as we are looking at every cost-saving option available while presenting great opera. Once a workable business plan is in place that better represents the local community, we will let you know.


Change is essential to keep San Diego Opera strong. We must find a way to present grand opera but also to explore programming that appeals to a broad range in the community, present performances and concerts in different venues, and garner interest with historically non-opera attendees. Our goal is to create a viable plan going forward with the means to pay for it, and we need people like you standing by to make it a reality.


FINANCIAL: We are in process of setting up a new account that will protect your money, so you can be the solution to San Diego Opera’s future. You truly are part of that solution and we promise that when you give, if we cannot succeed in meeting our financial goal to launch a 2015 season, you will get your donated money back. We hope to have this account set up soon and will contact you when it is complete, providing all relevant information.

IDEAS: Please let us know what you’d like to see in San Diego Opera’s future! Click here to share your ideas with us. As we craft our future together, it is critical to know what is important to you, what you think and how we can better serve the community.




Anon92067 April 6, 2014 @ 11:11 a.m.

Was this piece handed from SDO itself (e.g., in the program), or was it handed out by others out on the plaza? And how did Ian Campbell respond to the boo's when he spoke?

It seems to an outsider like me that the opera insiders do NOT want to save the opera, but rather just want it to close.

The key issue appears still to be the leadership--that they are hanging on for dear life. It would be so graceful if Ian Campbell resigned, effective immediately, as other arts leaders have done in all kinds and sizes of organizations. He may think only he can run it, but he is wrong.


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:33 p.m.

Anon92107: I was sent a U-tube of Ian's speech. The U-tube began after the booing died down, I am told. But there was a lot of heckling, Campbell seemed to take it fairly well, but the speech indicated he was adamant on his plan to shut down the opera. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:43 a.m.

OperaBuff: It's great that savesandiegoopera.org is taking this initiative, and has a logical and well-conceived plan in place. At this juncture, it appears the best course would be to perform only one or two operas next season, then, hopefully, build on that. Actually, that is what Ian did in his first year, when the company was almost broke.

One sticking point: whether Ian and Ann get any money upon departure must be cleared up. People won't want to donate if they feel the money will go to the departing administrators who abruptly gave up on San Diego Opera. Since they both were grossly overpaid through the years, they could make a magnanimous gesture by volunteering to forgo any further payments. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell April 6, 2014 @ 8:39 a.m.

I hope that Conrad Titus Prebys will stand up and open the wallets of the 5,000 tenants at his apartment complexes and bail the Opera out. Titus looks a little pekid and is sitting in God's waiting room as it were. Its not like he's going to take the money with him. With 5,000 rent checks pouring into his bank account each month he's not going to miss the money. A 3% rent increase should be enough to pay the Opera's bills. The tenants would just waste the money buying food and clothing for their children. Better to divert that money to the Opera than to waste it.


Burwell April 6, 2014 @ 4:08 p.m.

It is spelled pekid, not peaked, old fool.

en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pekid‎ Wiktionary Adjective[edit]. pekid (comparative more pekid, superlative most pekid) ... Don't whip Ralph while I'm gone — the poor boy aint well — he looks right pekid. 1966


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:43 p.m.

Burwell: In that context, pekid is also the pronunciation of peaked. Best, Don Bauder


dwbat April 6, 2014 @ 8:29 p.m.

For a legit dictionary, instead go to dictionary.com.

peak·ed [pee-kid] adjective pale and drawn in appearance so as to suggest illness or stress; wan and sickly.


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:42 p.m.

dwbat: Pekid is a legitimate word but its usage peaked a couple of years ago. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 10:34 a.m.

Duhbya: Careful. I may get piqued. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:38 p.m.

Burwell: Your sarcasm is piercing -- no doubt to Conrad Titus Prebys. I had to look up who he is. He is the principal of Progress Management Company. Best, Don Bauder


mark miner April 8, 2014 @ 2:41 p.m.

One looks up to CTP's name a good deal in San Diego. At the zoo, symphony, UCSD, etc.


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 5:37 p.m.

mark miner: Sounds like he is a philanthropist. Best, Don Bauder


ArtsAnon April 6, 2014 @ 9:07 a.m.

Question for any attorneys who might be watching these comments. If the attorneys are advising the administration to not reveal the report on the management style among other documents to the board "for fear of media leaks," can't the board fire the attorneys? Wouldn't any attorneys representing the Opera have to answer to the board? Or, did the leaders hire these attorneys on their own dime, as opposed to the company's dime?


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:45 p.m.

ArtsAnon: It's my understanding the attorneys who were at the last board meeting technically work for the board. But I have also heard -- but have not pinned down -- that Ian and Ann have attorneys, too. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 6, 2014 @ 11:12 a.m.

Opera must reach out to a wider audience. I recommend grabbing the Spreckels Pavillion for a week in next years Balboa Park fiasco, and put on a free show of highlights, accompanied by the orchestra one can afford. I would ask the Symphony for help in this. Then management should do what I do, look the audience in the eye and see what makes them stay, and what makes them leave, and schedule the next shows accordingly.


Don Bauder April 6, 2014 @ 6:58 p.m.

Psycholizard: The San Diego Opera administration already knows what sells and what doesn't sell. Most twentieth century (post-Schonberg) and contemporary opera does not sell, although some very good operas by Richard Strauss (e.g. Rosenkavalier, Salome, Ariadne and Arabella) were written in the 20th century. (Notice I didn't include Elektra.) Unfortunately -- and it makes me weep to say this -- Handel operas didn't sell in San Diego, either.

The opera went off the tracks with too much modern fare beginning in the 1990s, but got reasonably straightened out. However, the plan was to do Nixon in China next year. Ugh! I saw it once, and that was enough. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 7, 2014 @ 5:28 p.m.

Don, I wouldn't be so dismissive of "modern fare"--that is part of the problem with the Campbell's and SDO in general. This thoughtful piece from KCET in Los Angeles is worth reading: http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/san-diego/san-diego-opera-closing-op-ed.html

"But to what extent is this a problem of his own making? Like many baby boomer arts leaders, Campbell finds himself losing a generational race. The breakneck pace of change in the marketplace demands agility, and leaders who are unbending will inevitably reduce their organizations to a hobble. All art forms are faced with the same imperative -- to usher in a new era. This demands innovative solutions to reach new audiences, embrace new technology, diversify product and revenue sources, and chase the elusive goal of relevancy in an increasingly competitive landscape."

Don't dismiss the "new era" so quickly just because you didn't like "Nixon in China." If Opera only looks backwards to repertoire, it will never move forward with new generations.

I believe that SDO is a victim of its aging Baby Boomer leadership, who pine for the good old days of the late 1980s. There is a reason that leaders need to know when to step down. Ian's time probably passed a few years ago, and now he seems to prefer to bring the ship down with him instead of gracefully, and with dignity (as he says), stepping aside and letting the next generation take their turn.

There are a number of other San Diego arts and cultural organizations that are facing the same issues with ossified, aging Baby Boomer executives who make $300,000-$400,000 in salary but long ago "retired" from being vital leaders of their organizations.


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 10:38 a.m.

Anon92067: Your argument is the one used by some opera lovers -- particularly in Los Angeles and some larger markets. But believe me, the numbers clearly show that modern and contemporary opera doesn't fly in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 6, 2014 @ 9:03 p.m.

Opera should reach out to general audiences. Some might be surprised to learn that most performers are attractive young people who don't take themselves too seriously. Many don't know that many operas are funny and filled with tunes so catchy they are used in commercials. So many have never seen and heard Opera, this won't change unless performers leave the concert hall and meet the public where they gather.


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 12:44 p.m.

Psycholizard: Barber of Seville is an opera that is hilarious, if done well, and the music is beautiful, too. Of course, the major warhorses are Aida, Boheme, Carmen, Tosca, Traviata, Butterfly, Barber, and Rigoletto. But when the opera first noticed the audience was heading down, it got only 80% for Tosca.

Bottom line: since the audience began decliniing in 2006, by 2008 the company should have begun planning for different repertoire (say, lighter fare such as Merry Widow and Fledermaus, Gilbert & Sullivan, or perhaps American musicals. A Porgy & Bess could have drawn well, as it has in the past.)

If a change of repertoire did not work, the opera should have announced a cutback to two operas in 2014, instead of abruptly and secretly going out of business. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 7, 2014 @ 7:11 p.m.

Exactly, but this would have meant that someone would have to take the place of the pre-eminent Ian Campbell, which I am starting to believe he just couldn't allow to happen. There is enough pathology kicking around this whole mess to keep dozens of psychiatrists in business for quite some time. Fawning sycophants might end up being in short supply for Mr. Campbell rather soon, however,


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 10:42 a.m.

eastlaker: The small coterie around the Campbells could not be called fawning sycophants. Faye Wilson is very smart, for example. But it appears she had a blind spot in several areas, such as pay for the Campbells. (Incidentally, I have a call into her. It has not been returned yet.) Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 6, 2014 @ 9:07 p.m.

Anon - these appeared to be handed out in front of the theatre but they were on every counter throughout the theatre so clearly employee driven - or very motivated volunteers.

Here's a better version of the speech (audio only):


Don - it seems nobody wants to take anyone's money until they know it is protected and will go into a "new" San Diego Opera with a revised business plan.

And let's be honest everyone - Ian and Ann will get their money. All of it, some of it, they'll get paid. The question is do they do it now with "dignity and grace" or wait until they've completely razed an opera company?


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 12:51 p.m.

OperaBuff: I am not yet willing to say "face it," Ian and Ann will get their post-active duty loot. I hope you don't have a good source on that. I think that is still up in the air. If they get paid a bundle for not working (as Ann's and Ian's contracts seem to say), both will have to move out of San Diego. Don't be surprised if both leave. It's important to hammer away at the fact that both were grossly overpaid, and Ann's excessive pay was a conflict of interest. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 6, 2014 @ 10:45 p.m.

If the books the Campbells conceal from the board contain mere negligence, they can be fired for cause, voiding their contracts. There may be fraud, Ian Campbell has confessed deception. The speech was classic, "We love you, you're so great, thanks for your service you're all fired. Thanks for your support, which was too piddling for the big time, but enough to keep me in folding money. See ya!".


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 12:53 p.m.

Psycholizard: I am sure the question of their post-labor payments is a matter of intense discussion now. Best, Don Bauder


ArtsAnon April 7, 2014 @ 9:25 a.m.

I saw one of the news reports refer to the curtain speech on Saturday night as a "eulogy." Having heard it through internet sources, I have to concur. There is clearly no interest, at least on Campbell's part, to explore a future for SDO. There are many reasons why this could be. I hope that Don, and the others writing about this story, continue to ask those questions to determine why shutting down seems to be so important to management. I care less why half of the board wants to shut down as they are obviously still following Campbell's lead.


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 12:55 p.m.

ArtsAnon: You are absolutely right. I have listened to two recordings of Ian's speech. He is adamant for a closing. He is not only getting support from board members, but at the Quixote he was getting a lot of support from the audience. Best, Don Bauder


ArtsAnon April 7, 2014 @ 3:47 p.m.

"A lot of support from the audience" -- hard to say if they support the closing of the Opera or if they wanted to show support for what Ian has done for Opera in this town (well, perhaps up until a few months ago.) One wonders what percentage of the audience that night was aware of the fact that there are two factions fighting for two different outcomes for the SDO. Anyone who was there Saturday who might tell us what the conversations around them in the aisles and lobby sounded like?


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 10:46 a.m.

ArtsAnon: People clapped for Ian Campbell and told hecklers to shut up. In the U-tube I saw, Campbell seemed to get more support than I would have thought he would get. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 7, 2014 @ 10:48 a.m.

You might call it a eulogy, except that the loved one jumped up from the casket and complained of being murdered for the inheritance.


Don Bauder April 8, 2014 @ 10:48 a.m.

Eastlaker: Come to think of it, Phantom of the Opera might have been one popular piece the opera could have tried. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 1:03 p.m.

Psycholizard: Your statement makes me think of Puccini's wonderful Gianni Schicchi. The scenario is different from the one you sketch, but Gianni Schicchi pulls a lot of mischief. He impersonates a man supposedly on his death bed (but actually dead). Then he wills the dead man's fortune to himself. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 7, 2014 @ 10:50 a.m.

What really concerns me is that it was reported that it is board president Karen Cohn's responsibility to form the committee that looks into 'survival mode' for the SD Opera, and she has done nothing towards forming that committee, and apparently will do nothing.

I don't suppose there is any way to reach these people.

Other items from a LA Times article are even more disturbing. It seems Ian Campbell has somehow arranged an impregnable position for himself while destroying a viable artistic company. And if someone is willing to do that, they are very low.

So can there be a next step for those who are on the side of saving SD Opera?


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 1:07 p.m.

eastlaker: I reached Cohn for one interview -- printed on this blog --but I understand she is no longer speaking. I do not know if Ian Campbell's position is impregnable. There are two views on that. If it is, he hasn't thought one thing through: if he and Ann take several million dollars in post-shutdown pay, they may be blackballed from the opera business.Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 7, 2014 @ 3:22 p.m.

Will they really care about being blackballed from the opera business--Ian could possibly return to Australia with the proceeds, buy some nice property, and entertain and tell tales of how the Yanks are such culturally bereft bumpkins...I'm not sure where Ann is from originally, but if she has enough to buy a nice condo in Florida, maybe she'll be happy. New hunting grounds and all that.

What might be more interesting is where this leaves the "bright lights" of the board. Will they find things less welcoming about town? This is one way to really see the distinction between those who really love and revere opera, versus those who were there for status and self-promotion.


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 8:55 p.m.

eastlaker: There were good reasons for voting to dissolve the opera. Figures were grim. I, an opera lover, concede that grand opera is in a death spiral, but I own a car in a death spiral, have appliances in a death spiral, and own hundreds and hundreds of CDs and DVDs that are going out because of new technology. But that doesn't mean I am going to get rid of the CDs and DVDs and the equipment. We will play them for many years -- and use the car and appliances indefinitely. A death spiral doesn't mean death comes immediately.

The fact is that at least four or five years ago, the Campbells and the board should have come up with new repertory, marketing, fundraising, and cost-cutting strategies. They did not make significant changes. Right now, the board could vote to stage only two operas next year -- or maybe even one. There are plenty of costs that could be cut.

One can argue that opera in San Diego is unsustainable, but they didn't make enough intelligent moves to give it a chance.

Yes, both will be leaving town if they succeed in shutting the opera down. I will put money on that. Sadly, I suspect that their desire to rake in retirement money and get out of town had much to do with the abrupt killing of San Diego Opera. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 7, 2014 @ 3:16 p.m.

I first heard a hundred thousand would keep it going, now they are getting a million donation. What is true Don?


Don Bauder April 7, 2014 @ 8:57 p.m.

shirleyberan: Karen Cohn made an offhand comment that $10 million was needed to sustain the opera. But one board member told me that $5 million could carry it through next year. If there would be more cost-cutting, it could be less than that. Best, Don Bauder


Kookaburra May 13, 2014 @ 11:47 a.m.

I had a dream last night that Ian was the maniacle Cap`n Ahab lashed by ropes to the huge dead carcass of poor unforunate Moby,.... his lifeless arm flopping backwards and forwards in a macabre farewell to the astonished onlookers. Then I woke up. Yeah, SDO is dead in the water, the victim of a crazed psychopathic Captain!


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