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Chairwoman Karen Cohn of the San Diego Opera today (April 10) issued a statement that suggests there has been a complete turnaround in sentiment. But her statement about the pay of Ian and Ann Campbell is still an enigma.

"Every single one of us wants to save opera in San Diego," says Cohn, implying that it would be preferable to preserve the current San Diego Opera than start a new company. This comes after the board voted 33 to 1 to disband on March 19, then later voted overwhelmingly to extend the drop-dead date untill April 29.

Encouragingly, Cohn says the opera is creating a digital library at SDOpera.com, where key documents will allegedly be made available. She says she wants transparency. This comes after this week's announcement that a small coterie, including Cohn, the Campbells, and a handful of others, will make decisions, especially regarding the release of information.

She also repeated her earlier puzzling stance. To wit: "The board has been advised again and again by its lawyers that Ian Campbell and Ann Spira Campbell [Ian's ex-wife] will both leave the company's offices with no payments whatsoever if we close, and that whatever claims they have will be resolved through the liquidation process along with all of the other unsecured creditors." Cohn said earlier that the Campbells will get nothing if the company folds, but will get in line with other creditors. This is a contradictory statement.

In general, however, Cohn's turnabout, indicating a change in board sentiment, is good news for San Diego. The trouble is that until the Campbells' status is clarified, some may withhold donations to the current company.

A statement from Cohn, released earlier today, reads as follows:

First, every single one of us wants to save opera in San Diego. To be sure, there are disagreements about how to best accomplish this goal, but what is most important is that we all share this same goal. We are exploring every possible idea for creating an economically sustainable way to preserve the current Opera Company in some form. And if that proves to be impossible, we all stand ready to do whatever we can to help preserve opera in a new form for San Diego.

Second, no matter what decision is reached at the end of this process, we are determined that the reasons behind that decision are as publicly transparent as possible. That is why we are creating a Digital Library at SDopera.com/Library, where we will make available the key documents that bear on the future of opera in San Diego. We invite all interested members of the public and the media to explore this Library over the coming days as our process continues and as we provide more and more background material.

Third, we are also committed to answering the important questions being asked by the community. In particular, we want to put to rest the notion that somehow key Opera employees will benefit from the potential shutdown of the Company. The Board has been advised again and again by its lawyers that Ian Campbell and Ann Spira Campbell will both leave the Company's offices with no payments whatsoever if we close, and that whatever claims they have will be resolved through the liquidation process along with all of the other unsecured creditors. To provide assurances to those who are concerned about this issue, the Board is placing in the Digital Library a statement from the Board's lawyer that addresses this issue directly.

Finally, we pledge our commitment to complete this process for reviewing alternatives as soon as we possibly can, and to do so with completely open minds about what might be possible for the future of opera in San Diego. We will continue to update the community as the process moves forward.

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Anon92107 April 10, 2014 @ 1:06 p.m.

Don, when Manchester took over as Ruler of San Diego Republipuppeticians, culture became a dead issue in San Diego, except for his playboy mansion-pool party lifestyle.

Pope Doug's first command to Faulconer was most obviously for him to make his paramount priority a new taxpayer subsidized stadium for his Pope Doug Throne Room and to perpetuate the maximization of his fortune from taxpayer larceny.

There ought to be a new opera in this scenario, Pope Doug should be more than happy to be characterized as a God so as to achieve Wagnerian immortality, and that's the only way he will ever save the San Diego Opera.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 1:49 p.m.

Anon92107: Yeah, but Wagner's gods did not achieve immortality. They were killed off when Valhalla collapsed. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 10, 2014 @ 2:49 p.m.

I'd like to think the Valkyries survived and are still out there, disturbing the dreams of those who create devastation...


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 3:03 p.m.

eastlaker: The Rhinemaidens survived. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 11, 2014 @ 9:59 a.m.

In the Eddas, there are always Valkyries to spare!


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 12:30 p.m.

eastlaker: Yes, the Ring was drawn from Eddas, but Wagner made his own changes. (Most people think edda is just a crossword puzzle word.) Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 4:29 p.m.

eastlaker: If people knew the Lord of the Rings came from the same Norse myths as Wagner's Ring Cycle, possibly we could boost opera attendance. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 10, 2014 @ 2:15 p.m.

Rhetoric. Close them down. You're fired Campbells, Cohn etc., Open a new one. They stand ready to mismanage other people's money longer with first grabs on a large, self-entitled, paycheck. Needs a new building, new blood, somehow harmonious musically and tuned to reality. They should step down and give rights over to Psycholizard and Co. Go forward from there with no one but knowledgable musicians and actual lovers of the Art. Current regime would have to find honest work.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 2:23 p.m.

shirleyberan: But here is the problem: if the current company is liquidated, the sets, costumes, sheet music etc. would be sold to pay creditors. Starting an opera company from scratch is a heckuva job. Better to make peace among current board members and decide how to proceed. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 April 10, 2014 @ 2:36 p.m.

OK Don, let's raise the ante, if making Pope Doug an opera God is not enough, maybe we can save the Opera and BPC by replacing the Balboa Park statue with a statue of Pope Doug, ten times larger of course, in addition.

We have to find a way to get Pope Doug to champion something besides his new Manchester Stadium and Plundering Paradise.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 3:05 p.m.

Anon92107: To my knowledge, nobody has asked Papa Doug to come up $50 million to save the opera. Trouble is, it would come with strings attached: only if the Chargers get their $700 million. Best, Don Bauder


Bonsternative April 10, 2014 @ 7:14 p.m.

Hear, hear!, First must applaud you Don, for coming around after your friendship with the Board President's husband; so unbelievably shallow. but you were stuck on your past. Grazie for going forward. Watching what you can do to bring real information to the public.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 10:53 p.m.

Bonsternative: Yes, initially I was unduly swayed by my friendship with the Campbells -- but remember, their critics were also friends of mine. But there is no question that as I pondered the steps that were NOT taken in the years since 2006 when attendance first started to fall, and as I learned more about the possibility of the Campbells' fat payments after a shutdown, I looked at this far more critically.

I still believe that opera -- particularly grand opera -- is in the beginning stages of a death spiral. But that doesn't mean that this company has to fold now, or even in a few years. Death spirals can take a long time to be completed, and can be reversed if tastes and economic conditions change.

I think the organization should trim back to two operas a year, using sets and costumes already owned by the company, and perhaps using more second and third tier singers. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 3:14 p.m.

Ed Chapman: The board meets tomorrow. If everybody can smoke the peace pipe, and start laying plans to rescue San Diego Opera, and get started on settling what the Campbells may or may not be owed, and make it public, then there will be no use for pitchforks.

Remember the sequence: on March 19, Ian Campbell told the board the situation was financially hopeless, and the company had to fold. The vote was 33 to 1 to dissolve after the last 2014 opera. Then a bunch of courageous board members started questioning that decision and requesting information that was not provided in a timely fashion. The board then voted overwhelmingly to extend the drop-dead date until April 29. Now we are told that the board unanimously wants opera in San Diego -- hopefully the preservation of the current company. Draw your own conclusions.

Possibly everyone wants peace -- and opera. That would be great. Best, Don Bauder


echapmanjr April 10, 2014 @ 3:34 p.m.

It's a process. I get that. I'm hopeful. It's just so ironic that opera, regarded as a pinnacle of a civilized world, evokes such uncivilized responses. But then, I guess opera's about that, too.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 4:21 p.m.

echapmanjr: Even the comic operas are full of conflicts. Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola (Cinderella), Marriage of Figaro -- the list goes on and on. Conflict is what both comedy and tragedy are all about.

When people tell me opera is out of date, I tell them that if you want sex and violence, go to the opera. That said, grand opera is in a death spiral, but mainly because of costs. The death spiral will go on a long time, and opera companies like San Diego's can find strategies to survive, at least for quite awhile. And who knows? Tastes may suddenly change. Young and middle-aged people may begin flooding back to opera again. Best, Don Bauder


SDbaritone April 11, 2014 @ 1:33 p.m.

On opening night of Don Quixote Ian got a taste of what it's like to be onstage in Europe, where they take their opera seriously, almost viscerally.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 8:17 p.m.

SDbaritone: Yes, the Italians in particular can get irate when the opera performance displeases them. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 10, 2014 @ 3:15 p.m.

Don - do you mean you have a bunch of shares in SDOpera?


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 4:23 p.m.

shirleyberan: There are no shares in San Diego Opera. It is a nonprofit. Unfortunately, I do have shares in some nonprofits, but they are companies that want to make profits, but can't. Best, Don Bauder


Scott Marks April 13, 2014 @ 7:40 a.m.

Nonprofit?! Tell that to Campbell and his ex who stand to take home millions.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 4:26 p.m.

shirleyberan: I have been to funerals where, near the coffin, a harp sits on a large tuft of cotton, symbolizing the decedent is headed upstairs. People have agreed that if the funeral home were honest, it would place a pitchfork on red cloth next to the coffin. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 10, 2014 @ 3:37 p.m.

Nevermind Don - that's none of my business. I got something in the mail from our unsecured creditor legal eagle, finally, asking debtor, (Sicommnet) for a more detailed new plan. The company moved from here to operate in Nevada, without asking my permission. I never heard where that board scattered to. Court date is April 17 but it's not encouraging, so I get it.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 4:28 p.m.

shirleyberan: I am generally suspicious of companies based in Vegas. Best, Don Bauder


SDOmezzo April 10, 2014 @ 3:39 p.m.

Ms Cohn very clearly states they all want "opera in San Diego" which is very clearly NOT saying "San Diego Opera." Deliberate weasel-wording -- along with the entirety of the now-available letter from the best man at the Campbells' wedding who is the legal assignee for the SDO liquidation...


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 4:39 p.m.

SDOMezzo: Yes, but Mrs. Cohn implies that she prefers that the current SDO survive, rather than others attempt to start another company.

I have heard from people who say that Mrs. Cohn is now saying the opposite of what she said as recently as a day or two ago. There are board members who are puzzled by this complete turnabout.

I was told a number of days ago that Victor Vilaplana, the lawyer who is supposed to be representing the board, was the best man at Ian and Ann's wedding. I have not printed that, because I didn't know that it was true. But so many, including you, have told me this that I guess I will throw it out there and see if anyone denies it. There is another lawyer involved in this who is supposed to have a conflict. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 10, 2014 @ 3:45 p.m.

Isn't it uncivilized to mess up so many people's livelihood? echapmanjr - in a truly civilized world the growing separation of classes in our day wouldn't be socially acceptable.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 4:45 p.m.

shirleyberan: Well, Tosca messed up Scarpia's livelihood by killing him with a knife. Later, she messed up the soldiers' livelihoods by jumping to her own death rather than being captured, like a good sport. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 10, 2014 @ 5:07 p.m.

I flagged that accidentally looking for a comeback. Don - they have Scarpia's murder on youtube, 6 min 10 secs. I know, there's more to it. Will see how good of a good sport she turned out to be later.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 7:03 p.m.

shirleyberan: I understand Maria Callas was the greatest Tosca in the process of slaying Scarpia. She did it with stealth and grace. People rave about it. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 7:12 p.m.

Jim Ahab Boydston: When people contradict themselves in the same sentence, they are not necessarily lying. Similarly, when people say one thing one day and the opposite the next day, they are not necessarily lying.

I am delighted to hear that the White Knights represent virtually the entire company. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 7:14 p.m.

Ed Chapman: Many people have wondered if this whole thing was a ploy to rally public support, or to shame the town's richest into donating. If so, it doesn't appear it has worked yet. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 7:14 p.m.

Christian Hertzog: You may be right that a court injunction is the only thing that can stop this. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 7:16 p.m.

William Purves: You have said the right words: "strategic planning." Has somebody come up with a five-year or ten-year rescue plan? That is critical. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 10, 2014 @ 9:02 p.m.

Don, word on the street is the opera has a new PR crisis unit working for them with Mark Fabiani "the master of disaster" at the helm - he had two big suggestions. 1.) The Campbell's and Cohn look like they are actively trying to shut down the opera. Stop that. 2.) be transparent. The statement is their attempt at #1. The Digital Library you mention is their attempt at #2. Thing about transparency is it's not transparent if you only share what you want other people to see. And we're not dumb, we can read letters and see that yes, the Campbell's won't get paid when the opera closes, but they'll get in line with all other creditors in the end and get paid. That's why they killed the opera house early - needed to make sure there was enough money around to guarantee they'd get what they deserve. And they spent 30 years working there - you know what, they should get paid!!! Killing opera in our city to do it... well, that's where they made a grievous mistake.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 11:03 p.m.

OperaBuff: The opera has a new outside PR person. I have corresponded with her by email. I cannot imagine the opera hiring Fabiani -- the same person lobbying the City for a massive football stadium subsidy.

Fabiani, the flack for Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky crisis, and the Chargers, is not suitable for an opera company. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 10, 2014 @ 11:13 p.m.

But they shouldn't get paid to kill the opera...

I guess there isn't a "good faith" clause to their contracts?


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 12:49 p.m.

eastlaker: That is something we will have to investigate. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi April 10, 2014 @ 10:25 p.m.

Oh great, Fibiani is representing the snakes that want to close the opera to protect their income until their contracts expire in 2017. Ian Campbell needs to be fired and his contract terminated without any future benefits. It wasn’t but two years ago he was reporting to the media that the opera had a balanced budget. It’s understandable that after 30 years, he feels the opera company is his own property, and he yearns to retire. But his narcissist ass should be kicked to the curb and someone who wants to run an opera instead of loot it, should be installed.


Don Bauder April 10, 2014 @ 11:12 p.m.

Ponzi: Keep in mind that nonprofits reporting balanced budgets, as the opera was, are not the same as private sector companies balancing the books. Income and outgo were not balanced -- the opera was taking a chunk of Joan Kroc's gift every year to "balance" the budget.

One of the many things that must be investigated -- and aired publicly -- is why the opera was planning for Ian Campbell's retirement, but apparently not choosing and training a successor. The board and Ian Campbell have some explaining to do on that point.

If the opera actually hired Fabiani and his team to do PR, the situation may be hopeless. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 11, 2014 @ 12:06 a.m.

Other reporting has quoted Mr. Fabiani as saying he is working "pro bono" for San Diego Opera. It seems patently obvious, with the flurry of things happening in the last day or two, that this "master of disaster," as the SDO staff calls him, has taken charge. Is he truly doing it for no pay? Who knows. But the attorney you mentioned, Mr. Vilaplana, who was seen on Channel 10 when the last board meeting adjourned, definitely was the best man at the Campbell wedding. He also specializes in bankruptcy if that has any import. His bio states: Mr. Vilaplana focuses his practice on the handling of insolvency matters, particularly complicated business bankruptcies and international transactions. His experience includes representing multiple industries with Chapter 11 cases.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 6:25 a.m.

Anon92067: Vilaplana was on the board back when I was -- in the 1970s and early 1980s. He may have been on the board for many terms after that.

As to Fabiani: generally speaking, an institution or individual hires Fabiani when there is something to hide. Even if he is working pro bono (which I doubt), he is a bad selection. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi April 11, 2014 @ 10:19 a.m.

I agree. Fabiani and the Opera. What possibly can go wrong?


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 12:57 p.m.

Ponzi: Fabiani makes his big bucks flacking and lobbying for the Chargers. I can see a possible Machiavellian stunt here: Fabiani will flack "pro bono" for the opera. The Spanos family will give $10 million to the opera. That would be chump change for the Spanoses, who are worth more than $1 billion. Then Fabiani would use that opera gift as a crowbar to get his $700 million from the City for his stadium.

Add it up: $10 million to get $700 million. Nice deal if you can get it. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 10, 2014 @ 11:22 p.m.

Don - ch10 news just said if it closes, he doesn't get his million.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 6:32 a.m.

shirleyberan: But that is the story the opera is putting out by talking out of both sides of its mouth: the Campbells won't get a cent, but will get in line with other unsecured creditors. Contradictory. And some board members -- the diligent ones -- have toted up what other creditors will get and figured that the Campbells will get $3 million. Obviously, there has to be transparency. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 April 11, 2014 @ 3:59 a.m.

Don, the saddest truth about all this is that our failures to support SDO and BPC are just part of the national decline of Arts and Sciences in our schools and our society.

We are going through major social changes due to political attacks against arts and sciences, voting rights, environmental protection, equality and opportunities for all, with no end in sight.

We The People cannot afford to let SCOTUS/Congress/Power of Money Oligarchy continue on this decline and fall path They have put us on.

Thank you for leading Fight Back San Diego.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 6:40 a.m.

Anon92107: I can't disagree with a word you say. Beginning in the 1980s, greed gripped our society more tightly than it had since the Robber Baron days. Greed runs SCOTUS, Congress, corporations, even nonprofits. It is ubiquitous. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK April 11, 2014 @ 7:47 a.m.

Her statement seems to be made up of the same substance that was recently spread over the now-defunct Escondido Country Club .


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1 p.m.

Murphyjunk: I have not seen that Escondido Country Club statement but I understand it was a bunch of doubletalk. Best, Don Bauder


echapmanjr April 11, 2014 @ 8:38 a.m.

The rationale for shutdown was a math formula: downward attendance plus downward patronage equals irreversible decline. Thanks to the notorious board meeting, the publicity has been unprecedented, and entirely free. It created a passionate fan base out of thin air. And the outcry from those who stand to lose the most - the workers - almost appears orchestrated. Right on cue. Again, I don't know the Campbells, but high paid CEOs are supposed to be smart at their jobs. Geniuses or greedy imbeciles? I confess I can't tell.


eastlaker April 11, 2014 @ 10:06 a.m.

How about lucky greedy imbeciles, who shouldn't be rewarded for their imbecility?


eastlaker April 11, 2014 @ 11:21 a.m.

Lucky Greedy Imbeciles, not that far from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1:07 p.m.

eastlaker: Can't buy that one. It wasn't just luck permitting the Campbells to rake in so much loot. And nobody is an imbecile here. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1:19 p.m.

eastlaker: Greed yes, imbecility no. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 11, 2014 @ 3:40 p.m.

Heedlessly, blindly going his own way with no thought to how others who have contributed greatly to his success to date, would be affected. You are right, it is not imbecility, it is much worse. Extreme selectivity in registering the emotions and needs of others. Heading towards pathologies unchartered.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 8:31 p.m.

eastlaker: Ian's hubris got in the way of his decision-making -- no question about that. He wouldn't listen to people who suggested that, since attendance had been going down since 2006, the repertoire had to be changed. If anybody warned him about the possible consequences of nepotism and excessive remuneration for him and is then-wife, he didn't listen. Why didn't the opera have plans for a new director to replace him when he retired? There are many such questions. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1:05 p.m.

echapmanjr: Both Campbells are very smart, I can assure you. So is Faye Wilson, the board member who has called the major shots for so many years. I do not know how the Campbells' salaries got so ridiculously high. Did the compensation committee discuss that? Maybe that's why the board members who want to save the opera have had a hard time getting those compensation committee minutes. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 11, 2014 @ 10:11 a.m.

We all can only wonder if Cohn and the Campbells really thought this would all end with a "whimper." They make the announcement after ramming the resolution through the board, and after a few days of melancholy reminiscing, it would be over. Somebody miscalculated big time. But her statement should have been very carefully worded and edited to be absolutely accurate. Instead, as you point out, there's a contradiction in one sentence that is key to the whole mess. As you and others are doing, if you parse her statement, it raises questions, rather than answering them. That's typical of a con job, if you look closely at it.


Ponzi April 11, 2014 @ 10:17 a.m.

I don’t read this situation as premeditated or a conspiracy. Ian Campbell, eager to retire and move away, said he wanted to “go out with dignity.” The artists are shocked because they had no warning. It seems Ian’s ego is what is killing the opera. Just two years ago he was boasting in the press about how the SDO’s budget was balanced. As Don Bauder pointed out to my remark about that statement, the opera was drawing down a generous $10 million gift from Joan Kroc.
So instead of conceited embellishments about the balanced budget, Ian Campbell should have been humbly laying out the facts. Instead of launching a campaign to save the opera a few years ago, it quietly continued until it ran out of cash… and perhaps, Ian Campbell ran out of passion. Of course if this matter were news a few years ago there would have been the same uproar over shocking executive pay and benefits, nepotism and mismanagement which could have shortened the Campbell duo’s lucrative gigs.

The closing of the opera is senseless because it could have been saved if only the insiders had been forthright and began an ambitious campaign before hitting bottom. KPBS never tires of fundraising and the symphony was always transparent with the patrons.


echapmanjr April 11, 2014 @ 10:45 a.m.

I missed where Mr. Campbell stated he was eager to retire and move away. When did he say that?


Ponzi April 11, 2014 @ 11:22 a.m.

That’s my opinion. It has been rumored in these posts that Ian, who divorced in March 2013, has a new love interest and “he wants to go to New York.” He has been General Director since 1983, so that puts his years of service at 30 so far. He wants to close down the opera as if it were his own personal enterprise rather than hand it off to someone else. It is speculated that is to capture and secure the severance, retirement and health benefits while the opera has assets.

In brief, I would say he is eager to retire since he doesn’t seem to be willing to fight to keep the opera an ongoing concern. His actions speak louder than words.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1:30 p.m.

echapmanjr: Ian Campbell wants to move to New York to be with a love interest. He has let it slip too many times. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 8:33 p.m.

viewer: Howard Stern should sing for the opera? No thanks. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1:27 p.m.

Ponzi: This goes back to hubris, too. Both Campbells should have known that their outrageous pay could at some time come back to bite them. Maybe they thought it would never come up. It did -- big time. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1:24 p.m.

Visduh: Yes, that was the hubris. They actually thought that with their charm and control over the board, they could make this end with a whimper, not a bang. They didn't realize their shaky position with the staff and with some board members.

Cohn's statement above was worded carefully in one place. Note she says the opera will be transparent and will set up a website. On that website will be "key" documents. "Key?" That's a loophole. Best, Don Bauder


honeybadger April 11, 2014 @ 12:15 p.m.

Wait. Let me get this straight. Now Cohn wants to do everything to "save" the opera? Is that why, according to KPBS, she has created a "core committee" consisting of approximately 9 people, herself and the two Campbells included, that is supposed to do all the talking now? That hardly seems transparent to me.

Joan Kroc must be rolling over in her grave, because this whole thing reeks. Let's see, Ian and Ann file for divorce in September of 2012. Some five months later, in February of 2013, Ian signs an employment agreement with Ann, apparently without the signatures of the compensation committee, for an unprecedented $283,000/year plus benefits. It looks to me like Ian is trying to stick the opera with paying Ann for a portion of her community property assets and smacks of the worst kind of self-dealing. Who knows what kind of agreement they have with respect to their legal dissolution, but they were married for about 30 years, so you can bet she is going to get 1/2 of everything he owns, plus lifetime alimony. Why shouldn't he stick the opera with it? He can bury it in her salary and it's not his money. I guess he didn't contemplate that the little people would have the unmitigated gall to start asking questions.

Consider the following: If Ann were to solicit even a $5,000/per person contribution to the opera, she is going to have to hustle up 56 different people just to justify her existence. No wonder donations are down. Is that figure calculated before or after the Campbell's salaries? Now that Cohn and the Campbell's are the focus of everyone's derision, my how their tone has changed. But if you look at the preliminary documents they have released with respect to upcoming liabilities, there are still plenty of gaps in the information and very little, if any, transparency. Maybe Ian decided to shut down the opera because he wants to get out of town to be with his new paramour, and he appears to be far too narcissistic to train an underling to take over for him.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 1:54 p.m.

honeybadger: Technically, Cohn said she wanted to save opera for San Diego. But she clearly implied that saving San Diego Opera would be better than starting from scratch. That's a complete turnabout from a day or two ago.

The question of whether Ian Campbell was shifting alimony to the opera in Ann's extremely generous 2013 contract has come up. That is something that must be investigated. That may be one reason the administration has been reluctant to cough up the compensation committee minutes. But I hesitate to make this charge without more information. Others have made the charge.

You put the finger on the big questions. Why does Cohn say one day the opera has to go out of business and say a day or so later that "opera," and impliedly San Diego Opera, must be saved? And that sentiment is supposedly unanimous with the board. Why does the administration appoint a tight little group to make decisions in the beginning of the week and then later say the opera wants transparency -- of at least "key" documents?

Somebody could have told the coterie of insiders that their public relations were deplorable. Then that somebody could have worsened the situation and shattered credibility further by having Cohn make a 180 degree turn and the opera chirp about full disclosure, but with strings attached.

If this scenario smacks of verisimilitude, it appears that a PR person made another blunder on top of all the others that have been made, even worsening the credibility.

Could Fabiani have planned this? Through the years, I have found his actions repugnant, but I would never call him stupid. I don't know who is calling the shots here. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 11, 2014 @ 4:54 p.m.

Honeybadger - 5, not 9. Ian, Ann, Karen, the CFO and the Executive Director.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 8:35 p.m.

OperaBuff: Yes, that was the memo early in the week -- those five would be the decision-makers, including on any publicity. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 3:29 p.m.

CONFIRMATION: MARK FABIANI IS HELPING THE OPERA ON A PRO BONO BASIS. The rumor is true. Chargers' flack Mark Fabiani is assisting the opera in public relations on a pro bono basis. Los Angeles-based crisis communications specialist Lisa Cohen is helping with media inquiries.

Repeat: watch for some kind of arrangement in which the Spanos family gives some money to help the opera, and uses the heavily-publicized gift as a bargaining ploy to get money out of the City for its stadium. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 12, 2014 @ 2:53 p.m.

I've heard that Fabiani however was not brought on by the board - only by Ian, Karen, Ann and perhaps Faye WIlson. The board was never consulted. And Fabiani has leaked key financial data to the media before the board has seen it.

Don, you clearly have a contact or two on the board - ask them about the email sent on April 11 in the morning called:



Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 3:32 p.m.

OperaBuff: That memo is the one posted on this blog, right after my block of original copy. We left off the headline beginning "AN UPDATE...." Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 12, 2014 @ 4:43 p.m.

Don, no, sorry - to clarify - it's a response from one board member to the full board based off the memo you have posted above - you have good information so ask your contact on the board to share it with you. I had it read to me. It asserts Fabiani leaked documents to the media before the board saw them and Fabiani was not brought on by the board. They were not consulted. He was brought on by the "operations committee"

Also, did you see this:



eastlaker April 11, 2014 @ 3:55 p.m.

I was able to read the letter dated 4/10 from Opera America (addressed to Karen Cohn and board members) that was posted on facebook, filled with very sensible suggestions. I wonder if it will be read and considered.

I somehow don't think all this has been orchestrated to benefit the Chargers and Mr. Spanos.

If the end result is a flourishing SD Opera with more checks and balances in place and some flexibility in a couple of other areas, it would be great.

Is that only available via a Faustian bargain? I don't know. Or just a move on the chess board?


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 4:58 p.m.

eastlaker: Trouble is, there are several chess boards in action in this one. I think one of the most optimistic things is the tremendous outpouring of disapproval from opera lovers all over the world, including important administrators and groups such as Opera America. This has to carry some weight. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 11, 2014 @ 5:22 p.m.

Don - why have a board of directors if they can't prevent catastrophe? My husband's company had some good ones there for a time, Gus Grissom (the astronaut's brother) even Sally Ride for a while, but nothing in place to check the CEO and prevent bankruptcy. Makes Me Mad.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 8:37 p.m.

shirleyberan: At 58, the number of board members is entirely too high. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 11, 2014 @ 5:51 p.m.

The astronaut's brother, not Gus. The point is, the bankruptcy happened.


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 8:38 p.m.

shirleyberan: Understood. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 11, 2014 @ 6:24 p.m.

COMPENSATION COMMITTEE MINUTES STILL NOT PROVIDED. BUT BOARD MEMBERS NAMED TO SPECIAL COMMITTEE AFTER LONG DELAY. The board of San Diego Opera had a long meeting today (April 11). One piece of eyebrow-arching news is that the minutes of the compensation committee still have not been provided to board members who requested them March 28. However, members have finally been named to the committee that is supposed to look into the survivability of the company. Several board members had complained that Chairwoman Karen Cohn was delaying filling that committee.

At today's meeting, board member Jay Merritt gave a presentation showing that opera leaders from around the country are giving reams of suggestions on how the opera can change the repertoire and alter other ways of doing things in its quest to survive. Trying smaller venues and cutting costs should be tried, they say. These long-time opera leaders say they can't believe that a company with all of San Diego Opera's assets is considering dissolving.

Some board memberships talk about rigid leadership of the current administration, which knew that attendance started going down in 2006 but stuck with the same repertoire, the same marketing techniques, and did not cut costs sufficiently.

Apparently, Ian Campbell talked about how he has been abused and misunderstood. He also denied that anybody had prevented Nick Reveles from speaking prior to a performance of Massenet's Don Quixote. Only Campbell was allowed to speak, and he got booed. Campbell denied that Reveles was banned from speaking, but some board members say they have evidence of it happening.

The board also heard a presentation about different financial options, including a possible bankruptcy.

Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 11, 2014 @ 8:47 p.m.

So does the "core committee of 5" trump the "special committee"? If things do require a final vote, are all votes equal? Would all board members get to vote? Or would another set-up be attempted, with the "core committee" maneuvering things?


OperaBuff April 11, 2014 @ 10:37 p.m.

Unknown, as one appears to be at the board level and the other appears to be at the administrative level. My sources tell me the staff have ignored the core committee memo as it is unenforceable as it violates free speech but they often envoke it for mundane things such as blue or black pens when ordering office supplies or selecting a snack from the vending machine. Which, if true, is actually kind of funny.


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

OperaBuff: The way the memo reads, I believe the core committee of 5 is making the major decisions on finance, publicity, etc. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 7:48 a.m.

eastlaker: I think the core committee of 5, on which there is only one board member (Cohn), will trump the special committee, which is made up of board members. The core committee will make day-to-day decisions. The board special committee will consider long-term survivability.

In San Diego Opera's history, there has generally been a small group around the general director (including a handful of board members) that made the major decisions. This was more pronounced in Ian Campbell's reign. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 12, 2014 @ 8:56 a.m.

If this is indeed the case, it this an example of a power grab? Is it a legal power grab?


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 12:42 p.m.

eastlaker: Having been on the board during the Walter Herbert and Tito Capobianco days, and on the advisory board during Ian's reign, I would say the evolution of a powerful clique is almost inevitable. Some board members just don't have time to worry about the opera all the time, and hang around the opera office and chat with the general director. So quite naturally a coterie of mostly staffers but also a handful of board members develops in the decision-making process.

During the Campbell years, this intensified. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 11, 2014 @ 10:31 p.m.

Don, that's misspeak again - Nic was allowed to give his lecture "prior to a performance" but only Ian was allowed to speak before the curtain.

Proof via memo: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/users/p...

He's worse than a mealymouthed politician.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 7:57 a.m.

OperaBuff: This appears to be a smoking gun -- the one I was told about last night after the meeting (Friday evening). A source said Ian denied that Nick Reveles was told he couldn't speak before the curtain. This clearly contradicts Ian's alleged denial.

I did not hear what Ian said at the meeting, but a source referred to proof that Reveles was not allowed to speak, and you have produced it. Depending on what Ian said, he has hurt his own credibility with board members. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 12, 2014 @ 8:53 a.m.

Been on the KPBS site since Monday. And Ian contradicts himself every time he speaks. But share it with your source. The community deserves transparency and discussion.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 12:45 p.m.

OperaBuff: Thanks for telling me it has been on the KPBS site since Monday. There is a very good story by Angela Carone and two other reporters dated April 11 on the KPBS site. Best, Don Bauder


OperaBuff April 12, 2014 @ 2:25 p.m.

Also, technically, Karen Cohn prevented anyone from speaking, not Ian.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 3:47 p.m.

OperaBuff: Cohn said only Ian could speak. This knocked out Nick Reveles. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 11, 2014 @ 9:13 p.m.

One of the more shocking revelations in the papers that are now posted online is the fact that a change in bylaws made the Board Quorum only 10 votes, out of the total Board membership of--what?--58? That simple change made all kinds of Board action possible (and legal). Most nonprofit boards are around 15 to 30 members in size, and a quorum is usually half plus one member.

It is sad to learn that the long Friday meeting resulted in no change in the "let's end it" decision. And one has to wonder how the Board members responded to Ian Campbell's "poor me" plaint. Sounds like he is quite a narcissist; no wonder the rest of the staff has such disdain for him (enough to file that "hostile workplace" lawsuit)...


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 8:02 a.m.

Anon92067: Yes, there was no vote Friday on rescinding the vote to dissolve. This is quite disappointing. At least some board members were turned off by Ian's "poor me" plaint. And certainly turned off by the denial that Reveles was barred from speaking, when the memo in OperaBuff's post above shows that he was. Best, Don Bauder


ArtsAnon April 11, 2014 @ 9:37 p.m.

Wait, so if a quorum is only 10 people, then why can't the board members advocating for change use that rule to do what needs to be done. Have your 9 fellow board members ready, (sounds like they have more than 10), and then bring a string of resolutions to the table and take the votes. Lose the current chair. Done. Next. Lose Faye. Done. Next. Lose any other insiders who need to go. Done. Next. Fire the current lawyers. Done. Next. Fire the administrators who need to go. (May be more than just the two that are always mentioned.) Done.

Ok. Breathe, that was tough. Roll up the sleeves. Hire a new attorney. Get to work.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 8:04 a.m.

ArtsAnon: Yours is a titillating suggestion, but suppose the 10 people making up a quorum meet surreptitiously and do just the opposite of what you propose? Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 11, 2014 @ 11 p.m.

I was among the very first to question the dubious reasoning for the shutdown. One reason for that is that the generous buyout terms of Mr. Campbells contract was discussed in an article in the UT years ago. If I knew, who can't afford to go to the opera, board members certainly should have known, when they ponied up millions in donations for their posts on the board. Mr. Campbell has swindled millions fair and square, and getting angry isn't going to help settlement talks that should end this fiasco. If an audit of the books shows no malfeasance, he should paid the terms owed under a parting by mutual agreement. That might be millions, but unavoidable.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 8:15 a.m.

Psycholizard: I salute you for being one of the first, or the first, to suspect the dubious reason for the shutdown. You did it on this blog.

The letter from Victor Vilaplana, supposed lawyer for the board but one who is very close to the Campbells, contains a contradiction -- the same one Cohn keeps uttering. Neither board members or the public should be comforted by that letter.

You are saying that Ian Campbell took the excessive loot in broad daylight, and must, legally, be permitted to get away with it. Perhaps. But he is only in his mid-60s, and that action will reverberate even more in the world opera community. It already is. He may have the money but he will be blackballed. San Diego Opera will be known worldwide as a suckers institution. Again, that is already happening. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 12, 2014 @ 9:11 a.m.

New York is a big place, and he could certainly be virtually invisible there. Would his ego be able to manage that? Maybe that will be the ultimate test...if he is there with his new love, and no one there really gives a rip he is "Ian Campbell", or "Ian, the Crumb bum Campbell", that could prove interesting. Talk about your supernumerary...


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 12:50 p.m.

eastlaker: When San Diego Opera landed Ian, he was working at the Met. He had come there a little bit earlier from Australia -- I don't believe he was there long. He was unhappy at the Met, I understand. Best, Don Bauder


honeybadger April 12, 2014 @ 8:37 a.m.

So when the opera is taking grant money from the city, it is in "remarkably excellent fiscal health...SDO remains stable and does not anticipate any significant reductions, nor deficits or any long-term debts in the future..." I would imagine that someone in a position of authority had to sign that statement attesting to it's truth to grab the grant money. So which financial position are you playing today, Ms. Cohn?

To be fair, it seems reasonable to say that in general, investments in bonds and equities sustained significant losses between 2008 and 2009, and SDO was not immune to those market conditions. But that would have been the time for the Campbells to tighten their belts like everyone else did, not increase their salaries to deplete the capital of the organization. It appears that a small group of sycophantic insiders drinking the Campbell Kool-Aid has allowed this to happen, and anyone who has had the opportunity to observe Ian's behavior, either in or out of the workplace, will tell you that he is a classic bully and has a nasty habit of steamrolling right over everyone.

T.Y. for the correction OperaBuff.


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

honeybadger: If memory serves me right, in checking the 990s, I saw a big market loss in the 2010 period. I was puzzled by that. Stocks went straight up beginning in early 2009, thanks to very easy money. I will have to go back and check that. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 13, 2014 @ 7:16 p.m.

eastlaker: The total of mutual, index, and exchange traded funds went from $5.6 million in mid-2012 to $2.2 million in mid-2013. The market was up 30% in 2013. I am wondering if the funds were tapped for use elsewhere and that's the reason for the decline. It makes no sense otherwise. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 13, 2014 @ 8:18 p.m.

Wow. Who was handling the funds? That is a great deal of capital to disappear. I think some light should be shed on what happened there!! Do you think this is part of what they have been trying to hide?

Is it crazy to say this, but someone could have taken about 4 million out, and if the remaining stock rose that 30%, they would end up with the $2.2 million.


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 6:21 p.m.

eastlaker: Yes, that money was tapped to "balance" the budget. I checked this out. It was Joan Kroc money that was eaten up over the years. Best, Don Bauder


maxgozesky April 12, 2014 @ 9:48 a.m.

When a company finds itself in extreme financial condition as was the opera 3 years ago, the CEO should be replaced AT WHATEVER THE COST. Past performance is not relevant in a forever changing world. Those who think the Campbells and their board supporters can have any role in San Diego are living in a fantasy world. They are business failures, period.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 12:58 p.m.

maxgozesky: Gelb at the Met is facing declining numbers. Some think he should be replaced for spending too much money. But his innovations such as HD in theaters have been great -- unless we can prove HD is cannibalizing opera everywhere.

There is no doubt about this: attendance started declining in 2006. San Diego Opera did not alter its ways in repertoire, marketing, administration -- and didn't cut costs sufficiently. Somebody was not minding the store. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 12, 2014 @ 10:57 a.m.

Just in case it is helpful, for any who might want some further info, apparently Voice of San Diego has an article on (I hope I am understanding this) the state AG office wanting to look into Ian and Ann Campbell's salaries, as various non-profit regulations may have been violated.


eastlaker April 12, 2014 @ 11:20 a.m.

The original article is from a KPBS website.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 12:59 p.m.

eastlaker: The original article on what? There are several articles there. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 4:06 p.m.

eastlaker: Yes, that is the very good KPBS story I have been alluding to. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 1:01 p.m.

eastlaker: I was not aware the AG is looking into this. Good, if true. The KPBS story that I mentioned earlier sheds a lot of light on this egregious salary situation. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 12, 2014 @ 1:41 p.m.

It was the teaser on the Voice of San Diego email earlier this morning, "A former IRS official tells inewsource that the San Diego Opera's contract with Ian Campbell and his former wife could trigger an investigation from the state attorney general"

But a comment on the article from ienewsource was very informative regarding opera membership. If you have time, please read what cvg says on the KPBS.org article previously mentioned. Has to do with the 2012 990 form and the quorum change. This commenter believes the form would indicate the quorum change is for the SD Opera Association, not the board meetings...so I would think a very close reading of all that would be a good idea. Could be the fly in the ointment...for those who want to shut down. There's more, but I think people should read this for themselves.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 4:08 p.m.

eastlaker: I have read the article twice but not looked at the comments. I will. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 12, 2014 @ 12:07 p.m.

You can know you've been defrauded but they know you have to prove it. (in court)


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 4:11 p.m.

shirleyberan: Some suggest the Campbells have all the cards in their hand, but the possibility of their being fired "for cause" is a weapon for the board. Best, Don Bauder


maxgozesky April 12, 2014 @ 12:39 p.m.

According to an article in the UT, 4/14/05 entitled "Talent Scout", Mitchell Lathrop was the person who found the young singers. He is on the Metropolitan Opera Board. Does anyone know why neither he nor his wife are on the San Diego Board?


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 1:03 p.m.

maxgozesky: Mitch Lathrop was on the San Diego Opera board at one time. I don't know if he is still in San Diego, nor do I know if he was an excellent talent scout. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 12, 2014 @ 2 p.m.

If salaries are making heads explode now, there may be more fireworks when the Campbell's entertainment budget is revealed. The Arts typically raise money through extravagant entertaining, pouring hundred dollar bottles of wine into million dollar donors, is actually reasonable, but itemized can look ridiculous. There might be serious abuses of expense accounts, once again because the books aren't open we can only speculate. Truly wild and unreasonable spending might explain two persisting mysteries, why board members might think they could be sued for opera debt, and why so many still back the Campbells. If some enjoyed extravagant vacations on the Opera credit card, that should have been reserved for heavy spending donors, that's the sort of thing that allow creditors to pierce the corporate veil, and go after management in spite of incorporation.

I remember vacations being advertised, but I'm not certain when exactly. Someone who saves Opera programs might have a document.

Once again, if the open books show no hanky panky, the Campbells should be bought off in negotiation, they won the poker game, Opera and the City lost, let's move on. So long as the books are closed let's keep asking questions and snooping based on the limited information we have.


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 4:30 p.m.

Psycholizard: Ian Campbell used to travel in Europe virtually every year to look for possible singers. What did he spend on those trips? KPBS asked for credit card receipts and similar information and was turned down. This may be one of several keys to why the compensation committee's minutes have not been turned over.

The board must get the spending information. It is critical. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 12, 2014 @ 4:33 p.m.

Vincent Hashtag-savesdo Martin: Yes, the worldwide avalanche of condemnation, as you put it eloquently, may be important in unraveling this mess. Opera people are very sensitive to criticism from the opera community. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 12, 2014 @ 11:52 p.m.

I remember an opera cruise advertised on the radio. It's difficult to think of a level of expense account abuse that would put the Board at legal risk for debts as suggested. Management abuse of expense accounts and excessive self awarded pay often leads to attachment of personal assets in bankruptcy, as readers of this column are aware, but directors usually are creditors in such lawsuits.


Don Bauder April 13, 2014 @ 7:01 a.m.

Psycholizard: It is rumored that the California attorney general's office, which rides herd on nonprofits, is looking into the compensation of Ian and Ann Campbell. Also, it is said the IRS may take a look at their whopping pay. Best, Don Bauder


shirleyberan April 13, 2014 @ 1:55 p.m.

Don - "Tosca" is on KPBS" right now. Final Act (she just killed him at the end of the second) Didn't catch the first but Wiki has the history and story. Thank you for pointing out beautiful music, singing, acting I have been overlooking. Shakespeare at the Old Globe I have seen, love it. Still, Civic Center is surrounded by too much drama in that area. Would be so much nicer with Opera in Balboa Park. Gotta go, she'll be making a dramatic exit soon.


Don Bauder April 13, 2014 @ 7:21 p.m.

shirleyberan: I have heard of a Tosca catching her skirt in trying to jump off the roof, and not being able to fall to her death without some help. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 13, 2014 @ 7:38 p.m.

PROTESTERS IN FORCE AT LAST 2014 OPERA. BOARD HIT BY RESIGNATIONS. WASN'T CONSULTED ON FABIANI HIRING. PRESIDENT WHO TRIED TO PLAN FOR CHANGES WAS TOLD TO RESIGN. SHE DID. The San Diego Opera ended its season at today's (April 13) matinee -- and if general director Ian Campbell has his way, this will be the end of the company.

About 80 people were protesting the abrupt shutdown at the Civic Center. One held a sign "Ian Campbell must go." The last two operas of the year were sellouts. At the end of the opera, Massenet's Don Quixote, the stagehands were given applause, and suddenly the words flashed across the supertitles, "We're not done yet." Staff members and labor unions, who have formed a White Knight committee, are trying to save the opera, as are a group of board members.

More news: Harry Suh, vice president of finance of the board, has resigned. At the March 19 meeting when the board initially voted to disband the opera, Suh had made a dissolution recommendation. I could not reach Suh, but I am told that he felt that he was manipulated -- hurriedly handed statistics to read without being able to digest the figures then available. Also resigning from the board were Jeanne Jones and Tom Melody.

The board was never consulted in the hiring of Mark Fabiani, PR man for the Chargers, on a pro bono basis. There would have been strenuous objections, I am told.

The biggest bone to pick with Ian Campbell and his former wife, Ann Spira Campbell -- besides their inflated compensation -- is that while finances were deteriorating, they never changed their approaches to repertoire, marketing, and administration, and made insufficient cost cuts. It turns out that a committee named by former president Stacy Rosenberg made many recommendations for changes in operations. The result was that she was told to resign. She did. I have not been able to reach her, either.


eastlaker April 13, 2014 @ 8:29 p.m.

Thanks for this update. I had heard there would be a candlelight vigil at 4 pm this afternoon, so the 80 protesters might have been a part of that.

We can't let this happen.

Thank you Mr. Bauder for your great work in chasing this down, finding the right people to talk to and cracking through barriers.

There must be some sort of financial oddity behind all this--your spotting the loss of millions of holdings during a time when the market went up 30% might be key to why the board does not want more info released.


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 6:32 a.m.

eastlaker: I simply can't understand how the opera's portfolio would take a hit in the first half of 2013 when the market was strong. I suspect the reason was that the money was used elsewhere. But I could not reach Suh, who has resigned. I will try today to get an answer. Best, Don Bauder


eastlaker April 14, 2014 @ 10:44 a.m.

Don't know if you saw a reply I made a while back...re: the great reduction in holdings. Is there a way to find out who was handling the investments for SDO? What if someone took out funds...because I did a fairly simple calculation and if someone removed approx. $4 million from investments, with the 30% market increase, they could have ended up with the $2.2 million. All conjecture on my part, but might explain why this bunch does not want to open up the books.


OperaBuff April 13, 2014 @ 11:05 p.m.

Don - clarification, I believe the Friday performance had a few seats left. Sunday was a sellout.

Photo of the Company bow. Not just stagehands but the administrative staff - everyone - took a bow I'm told (except Ian and Ann).

Did you see this?

San Diego Opera Moves Forward: Alternative models of Opera in America

A Town Hall Meeting Hosted by Nicolas Reveles THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014 4:30PM San Diego Civic Concourse, The Copper Room Downtown San Diego


Join us to discuss the future of San Diego Opera by looking at ways other cities have ‘turned the corner’ on financial difficulty with energy and success.

Panelists Will Include:

Marc Scorca President and CEO, Opera America

David Devan General Director, Opera Philadelphia


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 6:38 a.m.

OperaBuff: I took the information on two sellouts from the San Diego Theatres website. Maybe the tickets were sold out but some didn't show up. Or the website could be wrong.

Many thanks for the information on Nick Reveles's program. Yes, Scorca and heads of other opera companies have denounced San Diego for going out of business without trying other strategies. And they are absolutely right. A big turnout at that Town Hall meeting would certainly be helpful. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92067 April 13, 2014 @ 9:28 p.m.

The "final" performance was powerful and moving, and it's hard to imagine a more appropriate tale than Don Quixote at this time. Nic Reveles got a standing ovation when he came in for the pre-opera lecture, and he spoke eloquently about the power of art to transform. He also said "this is NOT the end!" and everyone stood and clapped again. The last curtain call--when it seemed everyone on the staff came on stage--was even more moving. Carpenters, seamstresses, stagehands, electricians, all the workers who make SDO happen were there. Some were weeping, one girl in the front row had her head in her hands the whole time. The entire audience was on its feet cheering. It seemed everyone before and after the performance was talking about the demise, and a man walked around before the opera with a big sign saying "Ian & Ann RESIGN."

If a new leadership group of donors and arts administrators can muster a re-birth, and can take all this good audience energy and turn it into a sustainable organization, San Diego will benefit enormously and we will see a 50th season.


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 6:42 a.m.

Anon92067: However, I doubt the Campbells' and Faye Wilson's rush to close the opera can be stopped without a lawsuit. I think it is good that information has been sent to the state AG, but that is not enough. Somebody has to file a suit and there are several logical plaintiffs -- big donors, staff members, unions (who have filed a labor complaint), etc. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 13, 2014 @ 10:02 p.m.

This just gets more chaotic, and sad. Management amazes me, why don't they resign? One thing is certain, these stage professionals aren't staging this disaster. This caught them by surprise. If their planned motivation was to protect their claims against the company, they wouldn't have funded a new production of Don Quixote, when they had one in storage. The pretense that they saw this coming is strange, something is concealed more disgraceful than the shady fund raising they falsely confess.


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 6:50 a.m.

Psycholizard: I am not aware that San Diego Opera had sets for a Don Quixote already in storage, but I do not gainsay your account. Don Quixote is not a popular opera and is on the far fringes of the repertory. I could not understand why they even scheduled it in the teeth of declining attendance.

I agree that something is being concealed. We know the compensation committee minutes have not been provided. That's why I believe a lawsuit is essential. We are getting doubletalk from Karen Cohn and Victor Vilaplana. Best, Don Bauder


maxgozesky April 13, 2014 @ 11:07 p.m.

I was the man with the resign sign. I was overcome by the tremendous greeting given me....scores giving me thumbs up and many thanking me personally. I did the sign because I felt nobody seemed to be discussing the necessity for their resignations before changes can occur. I was truly shocked at the depth of people's feelings. It is a nasty mess, and saying the necessary words is not easy. Ian, in confronting me, said that the Board, not he, sets the budget. Apparently much has gone on in the past that I was not aware of. Ian's and the Board's actions of the last few weeks have furthered an abyss between him and the staff that can never be overcome. He does not seem to be aware of this!


Psycholizard April 14, 2014 @ 2:13 a.m.

I've been puzzled from the start by his failure to resign. His skills aren't needed to liquidate the Opera's assets, and as a creditor, his participation would be improper if not illegal. Something is amiss. Shepherding his own payout is likely part of the explanation. From his statements, his thinking seems delusional, blaming our City for their failure to attend, now I guess it's the Board's fault for failing to stay within budget. Fact is, he had a good run, then he flopped. No shame in that, but his actions now seem unhinged or crooked.


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 6:59 a.m.

Psycholizard: "Delusional" is the right word. Ann Campbell was in charge of marketing. But the marketing efforts were not working; Ian Campbell points to declining attendance and blames San Diego. Maybe poor marketing is at least partly to blame. Yet Ann kept receiving bloated pay and was ultimately promoted after she divorced Ian -- something that should be investigated carefully. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 2:14 p.m.

Ponzi: Ian Campbell wouldn't shred his own payout. I guess you could argue that some documents may have been shredded along the way. For example, what has happened to the compensation committee minutes that have not been provided to board members requesting them? Shredder? Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 14, 2014 @ 6:55 a.m.

maxgozesky: I think it would be better for the board to fire Ian and Ann "for cause," rather than permit them to resign. I think that would be the best step to thwarting their plans to rake in post-closure payments. However, the board seems to be split between the followers of Ian/Ann/Faye Wilson and those who want to save the company. Best, Don Bauder


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