Opéra de Montréal's financial recovery: a historic accomplishment



    MONTREAL, Sept. 3 /CNW Telbec/ - At a press conference held in the Salon
Vert at Place des Arts, Messrs. Alexandre Taillefer, Chairman of the Board of
Directors, Pierre Dufour, General and Production Director, and Michel Beaulac,
Artistic Director, reported on the Opéra de Montréal's situation at the end of
the second year of the company's financial recovery period initiated in August
2006. The company's administrators are happy to announce that the Opéra de
Montréal has realized a financial accomplishment that is without equal in the
annals of Canadian culture by completely paying off its $2M deficit in two
years rather than three, even going on to produce a small surplus of $25,000.
The Montreal company, ranked among the fifteen largest opera companies in
North America, has thereby achieved zero deficit in record time.

    BACKGROUND

    The $2M deficit required that the Opéra de Montréal - in order to ensure
its survival - adopt an extreme 2-year recovery plan that provided for the
reimbursement of 65% of its debt. But it was rather at the end of the first
year of its financial recovery that the Montreal company managed to absorb
this record rate of 65% of its debt ($1.3M). In order to accomplish this, the
company had to make changes to its operations: reducing its staff to 50%,
cutting its artistic season to four productions (instead of five) while
maintaining its benefit-event (La Gala), cancelling certain satellite
activities, and realigning its marketing strategy.

    YEAR 2 REPORT - 2007-2008 season

    At the end of its second year of financial recovery (2007-2008), the
Opéra de Montréal was in a position to completely absorb the remainder of its
debt, or $700,000 (35% of its initial debt), reaching zero deficit! Such a
financial accomplishment was made possible through the unfailing support of
the public, the business community, the company's partners and its funding
bodies, broken down as follows: 16% from private funding and donations, 27%
from government subsidies, and the balance from ticket sales.
    The 2007-2008 season was also quite exceptional in terms of paid
attendance, which exceeded the forecast by 8% to reach an average of 81%. The
number of regular subscribers levelled off at 5,550, as did that of young
18-to-30 year old subscribers, at 1,300. In addition, two productions were
completely sold out (The Barber of Seville and Madama Butterfly), and the
urban event "Madama Butterfly Under the Stars" drew a record crowd of
33,000 spectators. This production was the second collaboration with Opera
Australia, one of the world's most important opera companies, whose presence
on North American soil is the result of its agreement with the Opéra de
Montréal. The recovery has been carried out without compromising artistic
quality on the musical, theatrical, and scenographic levels. Finally, local
talent has been put into the spotlight, as is evinced by casts in which close
to 77% of artists were from Canada or Quebec.

    OUTLOOK

    The 2008-2009 season, the Opéra de Montréal's 29th, is proving to be an
exciting one in several respects. On the artistic level, the company remains
true to its mission: to offer bold productions of high quality, along with
something new. It continues to offer a premiere - Puccini's La fanciulla del
West, presented at the company for the very first time -, a leading French
work (Les pêcheurs de perles), a daring Macbeth staged by Montreal
man-of-the-theatre René Richard Cyr (later making its way to Opera Australia),
and a traditional staging of a classic of the repertoire (Lucia di
Lammermoor). A fifth production has also been added to the regular season,
co-produced with the Opéra de Québec: Starmania Opéra, with a cast made up
entirely of artists from Quebec. The company hopes to continue to be able to
offer a fifth production from now on.
    The company has set a course for financial stability and institutional
growth by:

    
    - Intensifying its reach in the business community and at the government
      level;
    - Increasing audience loyalty: as of September 3, 2008, the number of
      subscribers is holding steady compared to last year;
    - Upholding the artistic quality of its productions;
    - Offering a fifth mainstage production, as well as a benefit event and
      the Atelier lyrique production;
    - Developing educational and community outreach projects: open dress
      rehearsals offered free of charge to high school and college-level
      youth, a school matinee for elementary school students, an opera
      creation project in the underprivileged elementary school milieu
      (coOpera), lectures prior to each performance (preOpera), as well as
      urban events in the Metro (metrOpera), and the availability of an
      initiation-to-opera DVD in the fall of 2008 (NEW).
    

    2008-2009 SEASON

    La fanciulla del West - September 20, 24, 27, 29, October 2, 2008
    at 8 p.m.
    Les pêcheurs de perles - November 1, 5, 8, 10, 13, 2008 at 8 p.m.
    Macbeth - January 31, February 4, 7, 9, 12, 2009 at 8 p.m.
    Lucia di Lammermoor - May 23, 27, 30, June 1, 4, 2009 at 8 p.m.
    Starmania - March 14, 18, 21, 23, 26, 2009 at 8 p.m. + March 28, 2009
    at 2 p.m.
    Le Gala - 13th edition, Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 2 p.m.
    SALLE WILFRID-PELLETIER, PLACE DES ARTS

    Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal

    Cosl fan tutte - March 28, 30, April 1, 2, 4, 2009 at 8 p.m.
    MONUMENT-NATIONAL




For further information:

For further information: Interviews: Alain Labonté, Press Relations,
(514)523-9922, alain@alainlabonte.ca

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