Year 1 of Opéra de Montréal's recovery: record reimbursement of $1.3 million of its debt, or 65 % of its $2 million deficit



    MONTREAL, Sept. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - At a press conference held in the
Salon Vert at Place des Arts, Alexandre Taillefer, Chairman of the OdM's Board
of Directors, along with Pierre Dufour, General and Production Director, and
Michel Beaulac, Artistic Director, gave an exceptionally favourable assessment
of the company's first year of financial recovery, which was instituted in
August 2006: reimbursement of 65% of its debt for the 27th season, and the
greatest surplus ever recorded in the company's history. In June 2006, the
Montreal company - ranked as one of the 15 most important opera companies in
North America - was facing a $2 million deficit, and its survival required the
adoption of a two-year recovery plan that would enable it to bring its deficit
down to just under $700,000. The challenge has been met: at the end of its
first year of recovery, the Opéra de Montréal has reimbursed some $1.3 million
of its accumulated deficit of $2 million.

    YEAR 1 REPORT - 2006-2007 Season

    In addition to the adoption of a radical recovery plan - massive
reduction of manpower (50% of its staff was laid off), season reduced to
4 productions instead of 5, carrying on with its benefit event (Le Gala),
cancellation of certain offshoot activities - the Opéra de Montréal benefited
from the unfailing support of the public, the business community, and its
partners. Other than its usual long-standing partners (National Bank,
Hydro-Québec, Pratt & Whitney, Hyatt Regency, La Presse, The Gazette, Spinelli
Auto, Place des Arts, Bernard and Howard Stotland and Families, RBC
Investments, Private Banking, along with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation,
and other service and media partners), the Opéra de Montréal was once again
able to rely on the support of Power Corporation of Canada, as well as a new
partner: Desjardins. The financial participation of funding bodies (the
Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, The Canada Council for the Arts,
the Conseil des arts de Montréal, and Canadian Heritage) remained intact.
Remember that Opéra de Montréal box office revenue makes up 50% of total
revenue; government subsidies represent 28%, and private support amounts to
22%. Finally, the public also remained loyal to the company.
    At the end of the first year of its financial recovery (2006-2007), the
Opéra de Montréal has reached a record rate of reimbursement of its debt: 65%
in one financial year, or $1.3 million broken down as follows: $760,000 in
surplus box office takings; $270,000 in various savings (productions) and
$270,000 surplus with regard to estimates, for both matching and fund-raising.
Over and above an expected $400,000 in government matching, Minister
Line Beauchamp made a one-time $150,000 contribution in October 2006. To date,
$250,000 in government funds has still not been provided.
    In 2006-2007, the average paid attendance over the course of the
27th season was 81%, representing a surplus of 11% with regard to estimates.
The number of subscribers remained at 6,800; however, there was a 30% increase
in young 18 to 30 year old subscribers compared to the year 2005-2006,
resulting in a total of 1,300 young subscribers.
    The recovery plan has been carried out without any compromise in artistic
quality on the musical, theatrical or scenographic fronts. The attention and
prominence given to local talent was confirmed by casts made up of almost 75%
Canadian and Quebec artists; among them: Aline Kutan, Marie-Josée Lord,
Frédéric Antoun, Marc Hervieux, and Aaron St. Clair Nicholson. The
2006-2007 season included one work that had never before been presented on our
stage (Puccini's Il tabarro) and another that was presented in a staged
version for the first time (Delibes' Lakmé). We are also consignee for the
sets of this second production, which was already rented to the Minnesota
Opera in April 2007; the Opéra de Montréal took great pride in collaborating
on this production with Opera Australia, a partnership that resulted in this
international opera company's first foray onto North American soil. The
collaboration continues in 2007-2008 with Puccini's Madama Butterfly. The
2006-2007 season also marked the debut appearance of renowned stage director
René Richard Cyr on the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier main-stage (for Don Giovanni),
as well as the return of Alain Gauthier and Jacques Leblanc.

    OUTLOOK - YEAR 2 OF RECOVERY

    For the 2007-2008 season - its 28th - the Opéra de Montréal, supported by
a strong team of 12 permanent employees (instead of 24 before August 2006)and
a board of directors, reduced to 9 members from 17, will continue to steer the
course towards the stabilization of its finances and will strengthen its
situation by

    
    - continuing to take necessary steps in approaching the business
      community and governments;
    - simplifying its subscription options (regular season only) to create
      audience loyalty: as of September 6, the number of subscribers is the
      same compared to the same time last year;
    - staying the course on the artistic front: same concern for quality in
      casts, artists, conductors, stage directors, and set designers;
    - continuing with 4 main-stage productions, plus the benefit event;
    - offering the following educational activities: free open dress
      rehearsals for high-school and college students, a school matinee for
      elementary school students, an opera creation project in a school
      located in an underprivileged area (coOpera), talks held prior to each
      performance (preOpera), and urban events in the Metro system
      (metrOpera).
    

    0708 SEASON

    A Masked Ball- September 22, 26, 29, October 1st and 4, 2007 at 8 p.m.
    Roméo et Juliette - November 3, 7, 10, 12, 15, 2007 at 8 p.m.
    The Barber of Seville - February 2, 6, 9, 11, 14, 2008 at 8 p.m. +
    February 16, 2008 at 2 p.m.
    Madama Butterfly - May 24, 28, June 2, 5, 7, 2008 at 8 p.m. + May 31,
    2008 at 2 p.m.
    Le Gala - 12th edition, December 2, 2007 at 2 p.m.
    SALLE WILFRID-PELLETIER, PLACE DES ARTS

    Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal

    L'heure espagnole & Il segreto di Susanna - March 26, 28, 29, 31, 2008 at
    8 p.m. + March 30, 2008 at 2 p.m.
    MONUMENT-NATIONAL




For further information:

For further information: For interviews with Opéra de Montréal
directors, please direct your requests to the Press Officer: Media: Marie
Marais, Press Officer, (514) 845-2821, marais@cooptel.qc.ca

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