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Opera Singers File Complaint to Force San Diego Opera into Arbitration

Wednesday, April, 23, 2014


As the San Diego Opera prepares to possibly shut down at the end of April unless emergency funding for a 2015 season comes through at the last minute, more than 30 professional opera singers employed by the opera have filed a motion to compel the Opera to enter into arbitration as required by their contracts.


The San Diego Opera, arguing that it simply does not have the funds to pay out the remainder of the contracts, has so far refused to enter arbitration despite being legally and contractually obligated to do so.  The official complaint filed is intended to prompt a court to order the Opera to participate.


The San Diego Opera was founded in 1950 and officially incorporated in 1965, and has a tremendous economic impact on the area, estimated at $7 million annually for local businesses.  This season, the Opera earned $1.4 million in revenues, though no data is available for how that compares to costs and debt.  Opera sponsorship and attendance is down across the country, causing financial woes for many city Operas.  The Opera companies in New York City, Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Antonio and elsewhere have all gone out of business in recent years.


About 350 local musicians, singers and other tradespeople are employed by the Opera during its annual five-month season, and all would be without income if the Opera shuts its doors.