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ORLANDO OPERA HAS SUNG ITS LAST NOTE

Published Apr. 18, 2009|Updated Apr. 20, 2009

Orlando Opera is shutting down at the end of April. "The recession of the past 18 months has resulted in lower ticket sales, reduced contributions and defaults on pledged donations," president Jim Ireland said on the opera's Web site.

Three weeks ago, the 51-year-old company said it needed $500,000 to stay open. It raised only $25,000, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"The lack of broad community support indicates that a resident professional opera company is not a priority of Orlando in these difficult times," said Joy Barrett Sabol, the opera board chair.

The company reduced its deficit from $589,000 in 2006 to $200,000 last month by cashing in its endowment, the Sentinel reported.

Orlando Opera staged its productions at the antiquated Carr Performing Arts Centre. The company was expected to be one of the major tenants of the proposed Dr. P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center, along with the Orlando Philharmonic, the Festival of Orchestras, Orlando Ballet and the Broadway Across America touring series. The $408 million center is scheduled to open in 2012.

The opera company ended this season with a double bill of Suor Angelica and Cavalleria Rusticana in early April. It had planned to perform La Bohème, Carmen and La Traviata next season.

The economic downturn has taken a toll on opera. Other professional companies to declare bankruptcy or go under in recent months include those in Baltimore; Hartford, Conn.; Orange County, Calif.; western Massachusetts; and Augusta, Ga.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8716.

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