The New York Times covered the story of the opera's "death knell"
After facing months of public criticism, the San Diego Opera's general director Ian Campbell and his ex-wife, deputy general director Ann Spira Campbell, have finally parted ways with the company, opera officials announced via a release sent out Thursday evening.
Controversy erupted shortly after the opera's board of directors voted 33-1 to cease operations on March 19. Ian Campbell at the time said the organization "faced an insurmountable financial hurdle going forward." The New York Times soon covered the story of the opera's "death knell" and mentioned Campbell was "nearly booed off the stage" due to allegations of mismanagement.
Within days, rumors began flying that the push to hastily close shop while the opera still had significant operating funds was linked to millions in retirement benefits due the Campbells that would be at risk if the organization was to take on debt. Opera chair Karen Cohn quickly denied the validity of those claims, but defended the hefty paychecks collected by the Campbells, at times in excess of $1 million. That stance softened in recent weeks, as Cohn later said the Campbells could "get in line with other creditors" and potentially pocket $2.5 to $3 million if the closure went through.
By late April, the Campbells had been placed on paid leave, and a few days later an advisory vote by opera members recommended the pair be fired and the vote to end operations be rescinded.
The one-paragraph release on Thursday only announced that the Campbells and the opera "have ended their formal association with each other.
"The Opera acknowledges and thanks Ian and Ann for their dedication and contributions to the Opera over the past many years. At the same time, the Opera also acknowledges that current differences with them need to be resolved."
The opera and the Campbells say that they will "try and resolve their differences in an amicable manner," but declined further comment, including word on any post-departure pay.