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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Original Article:
The Philadelphia Project: Audience Development in a Lively Opera Ecology
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine
An array of cultural attractions is part of the appeal of living in a major metropolitan area. City dwellers typically have their choice of several theater companies, as well as multiple museums and galleries. Until recently, however, most cities have been served by a single opera company. This is beginning to change: Across the country, the lone local opera provider increasingly has company. New opera companies are springing up on a regular basis, allowing the opera-hungry — or the opera-curious — new ways to encounter the art form, often sharply differentiated from those offered by the establishment company.

Related Article(s):
Auditions: Fast and Frequent or Slow and Selective?
Diana Hossack ,
Audition Connection1/1/1900
Our cultural desire for instant gratification, along with the belief that more is better, can affect singers’ expectations and behaviors related to auditioning. Yes, audition information can be procured while sitting on your sofa and there are enough auditions that take place in New York in the fall and winter to feel like you are auditioning in bulk. However, by taking the time to lay thorough groundwork for the upcoming audition season, you can enhance your chances for success.
Recognizing Opera`s Trustee Leaders
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Music, rhetoric, visual art — the experimental art form conjured by a group of Italian scholars over 400 years ago has been a collaborative endeavor from the beginning. Today, it takes a staggering number of personnel to make an opera production truly sing: from sopranos to violists, riggers to wigmakers. The ongoing success of an opera company also relies on the collective efforts of individuals devoted to fundraising, marketing, financial management and other crucial administrative tasks. The volunteer leadership of an opera company — its board of trustees — plays a vital role in the successful management of a company’s operations.
Contract Basics: Sign Before You Sing
Elizabeth R. Koepcke ,
As a professional vocalist you need to be a businessperson as well as an artist. It pays literally—for you to be knowledgeable about basic contract principles and to be comfortable with the process of contract negotiation. Contracts don’t have to be scary, and singers need not associate negotiations with the onset of unpleasant physical symptoms. Knowledge is an excellent alternative to antacids.
An American in France: Nice Work If You Can Get It
Michael Rice ,
My story is an old one: The young, hungry singer in the right place at the right time. My Franco adventure began while I was covering in a New York City Opera production directed by the artistic director of Opéra de Nice. He pulled me aside one day after a cover rehearsal (which he attended — a first for me) and asked me what kind of repertoire I sang. I passed my biography on to him, and two days later he offered me the role of Buonafede in Haydn’s comic romp, Il mondo della luna. It’s safe to say it was the easiest audition I ever had, not having one at all! In the future I plan on getting all my jobs like that, though I’m not sure most companies will agree.
The Philadelphia Project: Audience Development in a Lively Opera Ecology
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
An array of cultural attractions is part of the appeal of living in a major metropolitan area. City dwellers typically have their choice of several theater companies, as well as multiple museums and galleries. Until recently, however, most cities have been served by a single opera company. This is beginning to change: Across the country, the lone local opera provider increasingly has company. New opera companies are springing up on a regular basis, allowing the opera-hungry — or the opera-curious — new ways to encounter the art form, often sharply differentiated from those offered by the establishment company.
Summer Festivals: Finding a Way to Shine During the Dark Months
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Summer opera festivals have a special allure for the cultural tourist — people travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles to see three or four performances in as many days. While an out-of-town audience is a source of justifiable pride, local support remains essential. With their brief mainstage seasons — eight weeks at most — how do these companies remain part of the fabric of the community during the long "dark" months?
The Impact of a Weak Economy on the American Singer
James Busterund ,
In March of 2000, the United States stock market reached the pinnacle of an unprecedented 18-year bull market. The market had experienced a once-in-a-century buying mania that had been fueled by the euphoria over a “new economy” and business opportunities related to the Internet. Many individuals and businesses prospered. Opera companies and orchestras were no exception. Charitable giving surged resulting in expanded concert and opera seasons and burgeoning payrolls.
Time Management
Carol Kirkpatrick ,
Three of the most important resources in life are TIME, ENERGY, AND MONEY. Energy and money can be regenerated, but time cannot; therefore, it is the most precious commodity there is. This minute, hour, day, month, year can never be duplicated again. Learning to be in the moment will help you to use your time more efficiently. Often, finding the time to practice or study music seems impossible, especially when you hold a fulltime job, or are going to school full time. It is difficult, but it can be done.
Prepping for the New 990
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
The IRS Form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax," is submitted by tax-exempt and nonprofit organizations to the Internal Revenue Service on an annual basis. The 990 is used by government agencies and charity watchdog groups to prevent organizations from abusing their tax-exempt status. The IRS also provides Web sites such as with copies of 990s; often this is the only way such information is made available since many tax-exempt organizations do not otherwise publish their audited financials.
Highlights from The 2006 Annual Field Report
Patricia Egan and Nancy Sasser ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
If you’ve looked at the financial statements and box office reports of your opera company over the last few years, you’ve probably seen a mix of good news and bad news, as the results of OPERA America’s annual Professional Opera Survey (POS) confirm.
Working with Public Relations Departments: Building the Relationship and Providing the Right Materials
Greg Parry ,
One important aspect that you should consider when you start a new job is your relationship with that person who are dealing with him or her. There are three things the public relations department will need from you. The first two, a head shot and a bio, are pretty standard and are probably part of your contract. The third, which is mostly in your hands, is your good will and cooperation.
Assessing Your Career: Defining and Moving Beyond Plateaus
Staff ,
Emily Golden, Mezzo-soprano
Neither personal nor vocal development is static, so from time to time one has to take stock of short- and long-term goals. Some roles that I sang as a beginner, for example, are no longer appropriate to my voice and/or personality. This has prompted me to explore heavier roles, such as Eboli and Amneris, which suddenly seem to "fit." This simultaneously recharges my own creativity and encourages others to maintain interest in my work. The renewed musical exploration that comes with study is a welcome contrast to the over-familiarity of signature roles. For me, Carmen is a case in point: With over 250 performances under my belt, I need to guard against falling into a rut; similarly, those who have seen me in this role, no matter how many years ago, might erroneously believe they know the sum of my work. Performers and spectators alike need to guard against stasis, so a plateau of any kind should serve more as a springboard than a stopping place.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Press Packet
Mary Lou Falcone ,
Audition Connection1/1/1900
As a publicist, it’s my job to promote my clients and keep their best interests in mind. But not every singer has a publicist around to help them with such things! To get the most out of your singing career in its early stages, putting your own press kit together is a great (and necessary) way to promote what you have to offer. Here are some helpful tips for preparing your press materials.
Marketing and Media
Staff Patricia Kiernan Johnson, OPERA America, Sean Bickerton, Kulture Shock Media; Kristin Cowdin, Guy Barzilay Artists;
Making Connections3/24/2009
You have worked hard to perfect your craft, but are your promotional materials doing you justice? This session will cover:
  • Headshots and other photos
  • Creating engaging Web sites
  • Managing your Web image
Fundraising 101
Staff , Dianne Debicella, Fractured Atlas
Making Connections5/20/2009
Most artists will likely have to raise funds during their careers, whether it is to produce a piece, attend a training program or simply to supplement income. Our fundraising expert will cover:
  • Identifying sources of income
  • Creating a fundraising strategy
  • “The ask”
Music! Words! Opera! Celebrates 20 Years
Clifford Brooks, Roger Ames ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
It all began about 1980, when Marthalie Furber, newly-appointed education director of OPERA America, conducted an environmental scan to discern what was going on in opera education throughout the country. Many of us already involved in company education departments knew of "create an opera" projects in different opera companies. Exciting things were happening in such locales as the Berkshires, San Diego, Tulsa and Tucson. Carroll Reinhart, a pioneer in the field of music education, had observed the work of a colleague in San Diego and began building from a number of creative processes to develop a methodology for children to create their own pieces of musical theater. He shared this with several opera professionals, including Henry Holt. Not long afterward, he was contacted by Marthalie Furber. The discussions began in earnest.
National Opera Open House: Don’t Miss This Opportunity!
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
Historic property. Large central space retains many original details. Great for entertaining. Adequate storage. Bathrooms need some updating.

The open house is an important event for those on both sides of a real estate transaction. The purchaser arrives at each property wondering, "Could I be happy here?" The seller does everything possible to make sure the answer is a resounding "Yes" — from greeting visitors with a welcoming smile to filling the place with appealing art.
U.S. Main Season Box Office Revenue Rises 11% over Five-Year Period; Ticket Gap Widens
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/7/2009
Given the state of the economy, it is not surprising that the most common question asked of OPERA America staff members nowadays is some variant on: “How is the field doing?” This brief article seeks to clarify some points using data extracted from the most recent Annual Field Report, covering fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

Through the Professional Opera Survey, OPERA America has collected extensive financial and operational data on professional companies dating back more than two decades. Companies that have participated in five consecutive annual surveys comprise the Constant Sample Groups of the Annual Field Report. In the 2008 Annual Field Report, there were 63 professional companies (excluding the Metropolitan Opera) in the U.S. Constant Sample Group and 11 professional companies in the Canadian Constant Sample Group. These numbers make up approximately 55% of OPERA America professional company membership, but using a constant sample group rather than the entire field universe (which changes every year) allows for a more reliable and accurate data analysis.
Recent Trends in Program Coverage, Artistic Expenses and Individual Giving
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/29/2009
Over the past 10 years, professional opera company budgets in the U.S. grew annually, on average, at a rate that was about two to two-and-a-half times the U.S. consumer price index (CPI). During consultations with board members and general directors, OPERA America President and CEO Marc A. Scorca referred to this percentage as the Opera Price Index (OPI). Core artistic expenses (the sum of artistic personnel, technical/production personnel and production costs) are an important element of this "opera-flation."
How Old Is Mozart?
James P. Gelatt ,
Original Content11/6/2009
How old is your organization? I don't mean, when was it founded? In the minds of your donors, or your board, or your staff, how old is it? Is it in its maturity — having gotten past the pangs of youth? Is it still in its awkward teenage years?

Or is it — frankly — over the hill?

For nonprofits, image is everything. If our donors and others who invest in us see us as still growing, or in maturity, they are more likely to support us. If they see as doddering, they feel it's time for them to move on.
Social Networking in the Life of an Opera Artist
Staff Patricia Kiernan Johnson, marketing and media manager, OPERA America, Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotions; Brian Dickie, general director, Chicago Opera Theater; Erik Gensler, president, Capacity Interactive Inc.
Making Connections11/18/2009
Social networking, including Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter, has become part of daily life for many people. Panelists at this session will talk about the pros and cons of an online presence and discuss the delicate balance between personal and professional networking.
Strategic Planning for Independent Artists
Staff , Darren K. Woods, general director, Fort Worth Opera
Making Connections12/2/2009
In order to be successful as an independent artist, one must treat one's work as a small business. This session, led by Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods, will give artists the tools needed to create business plans and reach professional goals in the opera field.
Personnel Reflections
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content12/7/2009
In response to member requests for more data assessment, OPERA America has embarked on a series of brief analyses derived from the Professional Opera Survey that companies complete each year.

The Surveys reveal that while total budgets among a constant sample group of U.S. Companies rose by 47% since the start of the new millennium, expenses allocated to support staff responsible for revenue generation have increased even faster. Marketing personnel costs have risen 82% since FY2000, and development personnel costs have risen 70% over that same time. (Looking at only the percentage gains does not tell the whole story, since technical and production personnel costs increase in one year the amount that marketing personnel costs rise over a decade.)
Secrets of the Charismatic Organization
Shirley Sagawa ,
Original Content12/7/2009
Where some nonprofits are chronically underfunded, others can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at a single event. Their boards are full of energetic, knowledgeable and connected people. They have grown steadily over the last decade. They are the go-to groups on their issues, the places to work, the leaders in their fields.

The reason for the success of these nonprofits is not charismatic leadership. Not every charismatic leader runs a successful organization, and not every successful organization has a charismatic leader. The secret is far simpler — and within the reach of any organization.
Highlights of the 2008 Annual Field Report
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/13/2010
OPERA America’s Annual Field Report (AFR) is based on the Professional Opera Survey, which member companies complete each year by submitting details of their annual financial, performance and attendance activity. Formerly a stand-alone document, the 2008 Annual Field Report was included within OPERA America’s new Year in Review publication, released this past fall. Individual members can access a full-color PDF of the Year in Review by clicking here.

Forty-two of the 74 companies in the Constant Sample Group (CSG) reported a surplus for the year. In FY08, the median revenue and expense among the 74 companies was nearly $2.6 million, while the average company budget size was over $7.2 million. Total individual contributions — including unrestricted, temporarily and permanently restricted — grew 12% from 2007 to 2008.

Total North American productions rose to their highest levels in FY08 compared with the previous four seasons. However, companies, on average, reported a 4% year-over-year decrease in total seats available and a 2.5% year-over-year decline in total attendance.
Tax Issues for Artists
Larry Bomback, director of finance and operations, OPERA America, Anne Adamowsky, accountant, Trudy C. Durant and Associates
Making Connections1/27/2010
Basic tax preparation can be a tricky endeavor. Add self-employment, itemized deductions and quarterly filing to the mix, and overwhelming does not begin to describe the process. Learn from a panel of experienced taxpayers and certified professionals how to best approach finance as an independent artist.
History of the Cultural Data Project / Professional Opera Survey Collaboration
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance & Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content2/10/2010
In August 2008, OPERA America staff met with Marian Godfrey and Neville Vakharia of Pew Charitable Trusts to discuss the possibility of OPERA America integrating its Professional Opera Survey (POS) with the Cultural Data Project (CDP). OPERA America had already been planning to turn the Professional Opera Survey into an online form, and consultants Cool Spring Analytics had referred OPERA America to CDP to see if there was mutual benefit. After seeing a demonstration of how the CDP collects information and generates useful reports instantaneously, OPERA America staff left the meeting impressed and excited about a potential collaboration.

OPERA America staff convened a small committee of finance network representatives to gauge their interest in and enthusiasm for such a collaboration. The committee included a few representatives from companies in Pennsylvania and California, where CDP had already established a presence in the state, and they were particularly supportive of a joint form. Other representatives, including those from New York City Opera and Boston Lyric Opera, were already aware that CDP would soon have a presence in their states and saw the inevitability, if not the necessity, of an integrated data collection system.
Taxing Foreign Artists
Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America , Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America
Original Content3/17/2010
Visiting artists bring a sometimes unique perspective to your stage, and equally unique issues to your tax returns. Pretty much anyone who performs in the US gets taxed, but the simplicity ends there. What compensation is subject to withholding? Can artists without a Social Security Number be paid? Answers to those questions, and any others you may have particular to your situation, in this discussion with FTM Arts Law attorney and tax-withholding expert Robyn Guilliams, co-author of Artists From Abroad.
Interview: George Steel of New York City Opera
Marc A. Scorca, President & CEO, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/18/2011
OPERA America’s Marc A. Scorca interviewed George Steel, New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director on April 12, 2011 about recent press, the 2011-2012 season and union negotiations.
Last Chance Summer Reading!: Arts Education Reading and Resources
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning and Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content9/12/2011
Though summer weather is still going strong, the start of another school year is right around the corner! As you begin planning for the fall, be sure to check out these great resources for arts education:

Not in Kansas Anymore
Joyce DiDonato sounds off on the recent elimination of funding for the arts by her home state of Kansas.

Art Talk
The National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works Blog features Art Talk interviews with prominent artists. See what Sandra Radvanovsky has to say about arts education, gain new insights from Marna Stalcup of the Right Brain Initiative and hear how early experiences with arts education made a lasting impact on NEA staff.
Engaging a Diverse Community
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, and Alexa B. Antopol, Research & Reference Librarian ,
Original Content10/17/2011
The title of a pre-conference seminar from Opera Conference 2011 was especially relevant last week as three different reports and announcements stimulated much thinking about how opera companies — and all performing arts organizations — can do a better job of engaging a diverse community.

National Public Radio's Deceptive Cadence blog posted about two notable mentions of opera in the New York Times: an incidental (and unflattering) reference in a restaurant review and a front page article about the success of the Metropolitan Opera's fundraising efforts last year. In "Is Opera Stuff (Only) Rich People Like?", Anastasia Tsioulcas used the language of the Occupy Wall Street protests to ask readers about opera's status as an elitist art form. Twenty-four hours later, Tsioulcas knew the answer to her question was a resounding NO: Opera is for the 99%.
How to Talk About Finances So Non-Financial Folks Will Listen
Bridgestar Staff ,
Original Content12/22/2011
Nonprofit staff members almost universally understand the importance of achieving the mission of the organization and are trained in delivering direct services such as feeding the hungry, educating low-income children, or advocating for a more sustainable environment. However, many of these individuals, while highly skilled in a particular program area, do not have a lot of training and experience in working with financial data. Understandably, when prioritizing their work, nonprofit line managers will often choose to spend their time feeding the hungry over examining numbers on a departmental budget spreadsheet.
Who are Your Best Customers (and Why Many Don't Know)?
Chad M. Bauman, Arts Marketing Blog ,
Original Content12/22/2011
Some time ago, I was at the box office when a major donor who lives out of town came up to the window. I instantly recognized her even though she hadn't visited us in quite some time. After warmly welcoming her back, I stepped away briefly to attend to another matter, and when I returned to continue our conversation, I was startled to see that she was being charged an exchange fee to transfer into another performance. When I inquired, the box office associate rightly told me that she wasn't a subscriber, and that waiving exchange fees was a subscriber benefit. In this case, the patron wasn't a subscriber because she lived thousands of miles away, however she was an incredibly generous donor, giving both to our annual fund and our campaign. Her giving over the years easily made her one of our most valuable customers, but because she wasn't a subscriber, the box office didn't grant her one of our entry level benefits.
Measuring Brand Personality: Why Customer Service, Social Marketing and Brandmaking are Becoming the Same Thing
Patricia Martin, Culture Scout Blog ,
Original Content4/17/2012
Everything communicates. Everything. What our brands do, say, show, process or sell. My colleague, Nancy Goldstein, is a brand strategist who is especially passionate about this. And she's right.

Lately, I've been studying the best behaviors of social brands. That's why this infographic caught my eye. It reveals interesting insights into customer service and social commerce.
CFOs Delve into Business Planning
Bridgestar ,
Original Content5/29/2012
The members of Bridgestar's New York Nonprofit CFO Networking Group, which comprises more than a dozen nonprofit chief financial officers (CFOs), held a wide-ranging discussion about many facets of business planning at one of their monthly meetings. Jon Huggett, then a partner at The Bridgespan Group, set the framework for the discussion by giving an overview of business planning, and then presenting a case study of the business planning process that the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA) went through and the ensuing decisions the organization made1. This was followed by a lively question and answer session that touched on everything from helpful planning tools to the wrenching decisions that have to be made when a popular program is no longer financially viable. The following highlights from the discussion offer valuable insights from both Huggett and from practitioners in the field. Aside from Jon Huggett, participants are identified only by their initials. 
New Membership Structure Brings Surprises
Mark Athitakis, Senior Editor, Associations Now ,
Original Content6/8/2012
An upbeat outlook on life isn't supposed to go out of style, but by early 2010 Optimist International (OI) recognized it was having a hard time attracting younger members.
An Excellence Manifesto for the Digital Age
Douglas McLennan, ArtsJournal ,
Original Content6/22/2012
  1. Excellence is Meaningless

Excellence doesn’t stand out when everything is excellent. In a world where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average,” being good looking, strong and above average won’t get you noticed. We perceive excellence when it stands out from the things around it. When everything is excellent then excellence is average. It’s in our nature to want more, to want different. Most declarations of excellence aren’t about excellence at all; they’re about positioning. In the digital age, when ideas and bits and bytes are cheap and endlessly reproducible, excellence is a mutable concept.
Living Opera
Darren K. Woods, General Director, Fort Worth Opera ,
Original Content10/1/2012
Fort Worth Opera’s Darren K. Woods on setting a new festival agenda

I guess you could say that opera festivals are in my blood. My first opera job as a professional singer was as an apprentice artist for Santa Fe Opera. I worked at Santa Fe most summers for the next 14 years, along with the festivals in Saint Louis, Chautauqua, Glimmerglass, Sarasota and several others, but eventually I retired from singing and became a general director. When I came to Fort Worth, the board charged me with breathing new life into our 60-year-old stagione company, and the idea of changing into a festival format was a natural leap for me — albeit an exciting and frightening one. It would necessitate altering our business model completely, trying something that had never been done in north Texas, and risking a patron base that was comfortable attending operas spaced out over the year. However, facing stiff competition from the hundreds of other arts organizations serving a population of over six million people in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, it was a matter of change or die.
On Networking
Angela Myles Beeching, Director, New England Conservatory Career Services Center ,
You often hear, "It's not what you know, it's who you know!" There is a real element of truth to this but to be accurate, it's who you know and what you do about it that matters. Networking, or "schmoozing," is simply an exchange of information and resources; it's a two-way street.

People often associate networking with other fields — with high tech or business — not the arts. But networking is an important factor in all fields, especially in the "small world" of music where reputations and connections are critical, if not crucial, to career building.

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One

Contact Us
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From Airport:
The easiest way to reach the OPERA America offices is to get a cab at the airport. Cost is $40-45
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From Penn Station/Madison Square Garden:
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From Grand Central Station:
Take the Train to the 42nd/Times Square station and transfer to the Train.
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

From 42nd Street/Times Square:
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

For more detailed directions, most up-to-date pricing or to specify a different starting location, please visit the
MTA Web site.