Annual Report 2009/10 - Seattle Opera

Annual Report 2009/10 - Seattle Opera

Annual Report 2009/10

The 2009/10 season at Seattle Opera

began with the third presentation of

Stephen Wadsworth’s production of

Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung. All

three cycles sold out, and this Ring

again was called by many audience

members a Fricka-centric Ring

because of the stellar, unforgettable

contributions of Stephanie Blythe as

both Frickas, the Second Norn, and

the Götterdämmerung Waltraute.

Ms. Blythe is extraordinary and was so in all her appearances. But there were

many others: Stig Andersen, though plagued with illness in the first cycle,

offered his brilliantly conceived, intensely musical Siegfried, Stuart Skelton his

heroic Siegmund, Margaret Jane Wray a moving, emotional Sieglinde, Dennis

Petersen an acclaimed, well-crafted and superbly sung Mime, Richard Paul

Fink again a terrifying Alberich, and Andrea Silvestrelli a dark, moving Fasolt

and Hunding. Greer Grimsley dominated the Ring with his increasingly

sensitive and powerful Wotan. Janet Baird played a varied and engaging

Brünnhilde. Robert Spano conducted with great heart and understanding.

Rozarii Lynch photo

Cover: 2010 Amelia with Ashley Emerson (Young Amelia) and William Burden (Dodge). (Rozarii Lynch photo)

2009 Die Walküre with Stephanie Blythe (Fricka) and Greer Grimsley (Wotan).

2 | Seattle Opera

(Chris Bennion photo)

The rest of the season was launched by a production of La traviata, featuring

Nuccia Focile in the title role. The greatest excitement of the production,

however, was the American debut of Francesco Demuro as the alternativecast

Alfredo. An Italian tenor with an expressive voice, great high register,

and unforgettable charm, Demuro seems headed for a great career. Dimitri

Pittas contributed a fine Alfredo in the first cast, and the opera was

conducted by Brian Garman. In January Seattle Opera presented a thrilling

Il trovatore, directed intelligently by José María Condemi. Lisa Daltirus

added a great Leonora to her Verdi credentials, and Mary Elizabeth Williams

in the alternative cast offered an equally exciting reading of the role.

Antonello Palombi and Arnold Rawls negotiated the title role successfully

and with great excitement. The real center of the opera, Azucena, allowed

Malgorzata Walewska and Mary Phillips to offer powerful high and low

notes and very convincing madness, while Gordon Hawkins and Todd

Thomas played the role of Count Di Luna with eloquence. Yves Abel

returned to Seattle Opera as a charismatic conductor.

Verdi’s Falstaff in February and March showed off Peter Kazaras’s directorial

skills in a Shakespeare-influenced production highlighted by Peter Rose’s funny

and vocally eloquent Fat Knight and Stephanie Blythe’s unforgettable Quickly.

Riccardo Frizza led the orchestra in Verdi’s most symphonic work.

Finally, Seattle Opera presented the first world premiere commissioned in

my time as General Director: Amelia by Daron Aric Hagen, with libretto

by Gardner McFall and story by Stephen Wadsworth. Gerard Schwarz

conducted and Wadsworth directed a group of American singers starring

Kate Lindsey, who won our Artist of the Year Award for the title role,

William Burden, and Nathan Gunn. Jane Eaglen, the only non-American

in the cast, added her remarkable artistry to the production. Amelia turned

out to be a real success with critics and audiences, and an especially moving

experience for those with connections to the military or the Vietnam War.

Authentic, memorable settings of mid-America and Vietnam were created by

Thomas Lynch and lit with great insight by Duane Schuler.

All in all, a season at Seattle Opera of which we can be proud.

Season Review

2009 La traviata with Francesco Demuro (Alfredo).

(Rozarii Lynch photo)

2010 Il trovatore with Malgorzata Walewska (Azucena) and

Antonello Palombi (Manrico). (Rozarii Lynch photo)

2010 Falstaff with Peter Rose (Falstaff) and Stephanie Blythe

(Mistress Quickly). (Rozarii Lynch photo)

2010 Falstaff with Peter Rose (Falstaff). (Rozarii Lynch photo)

Kate Lindsey (Amelia) in the 2010 production of Amelia. (Rozarii Lynch photo)

Annual Report 2009/10 | 3

Amelia Earhart’s Electra plane being fabricated at Seattle Opera’s Scenic Studios.

(Michael Moore photo)

Chairman’s Note

Seattle Opera had a landmark

season in 2009/10. Our ambitious

mainstage productions, along with our

extensive non-mainstage programs,

enhanced the cultural life of the Pacific

Northwest. I’m particularly proud of

Seattle Opera’s ever-increasing array of

community partnerships with collaborators

large and small, far and near. In 2009/10,

our Young Artists and Education programs

presented 15 performances of three operas

in communities around the state. It was

a strong year for Wagner-themed educational programming, with

47 education events during the summer’s Ring festival, partnerships

with five elementary schools, and a concert for young people of music

from Wagner’s Ring, played by the Seattle Symphony and narrated

by Speight Jenkins. Thanks to a grant from The Wallace Foundation,

Seattle Opera went online in a big way this season, introducing a

popular series of behind-the-scenes videos, livestreaming our many

Amelia-related events, massively expanding our social networking

presence, and achieving national attention for “Confessions of a First-

Time Operagoer.” We carry forward from this year lessons learned,

alliances forged and strengthened, and many great memories.

A student’s response to Siegfried and the Ring of Fire

produced at a school in Wallingford.

Rookie pitcher debuts at the Mariners.

(Jack Mitz photo)

Vietnamese lion dancers usher in good fortune at

the Amelia gala at the Museum of Flight.

(Alan Alabastro photo)

Librettist Gardner McFall reads her poems at the Elliott Bay Book Company.

(Rozarii Lynch photo)

4 | Seattle Opera

Richard Paul Fink teaches Cassidy Quinn

Brettler, host of “Confessions of a First-

Time Operagoer,” one of Alberich’s stunts

from the Ring. (Bill Mohn photo)

Vietnam War veterans discuss their experiences

at an Amelia event at the Museum of

Flight, livestream sponsored by The Wallace

Foundation. (Alan Alabastro photo)

Community Report

Speight Jenkins tells stories from Wagner’s Ring at a Seattle Symphony children’s concert at Benaroya Hall. (Bill Mohn photo)

A Ring patron takes advantage of

the Wallace Foundation-sponsored

digital kiosks. (Bill Mohn photo)

Greer Grimsley discusses his role of Wotan during

the 2009 Ring at one of many events in the new

Fisher Pavilion. (Bill Mohn photo)

2010 Young Artists production of Ariadne auf Naxos at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center

(Chris Bennion photo)

Peter Kazaras, Speight Jenkins, Daron Aric Hagen, and Stephen Wadsworth reminisce about working with Bernstein as part of the citywide

Bernstein Festival. (Bill Mohn photo)

Young patron at Seattle Opera’s

Family Day enjoys the “instrument

petting zoo.” (Bill Mohn photo)

Annual Report 2009/10 | 5

A Message from the

Executive Director

This past season Seattle Opera had the

privilege, thanks to the generosity of

its community and to an unwavering

focus on its mission, to report a

balanced budget and a successful

season. But as a company we find ourselves

in an extremely difficult environment, faced

with three enemies that are gaining ground and

threatening who we are and what we do:

Kelly Tweeddale (Wah Lui photo)

earned 2010

Earned and Contributed Income

Mainstage Ticket Rev

Other Earned Income

Contributed Income

Enemy number one: a precarious economy. The finances of opera are always

perilous, but today we are constantly reminded that doubt supersedes

conviction and that we shouldn’t count on anything. Great opera requires

commitments and decisions three to five years in advance. Schlock opera is

what you throw together at the last minute when you finally decide the sky

isn’t falling. The best defense against that type of opera is careful planning

and earning the commitment and conviction of our audience and donors. For

opera to survive, we, you, and the community need to believe that opera is

a necessity, not a frill. We need to know we are in this for the long term, not

just surviving the short-term skirmishes.

Enemy number two: obsolescence. Because our business is geared to

producing live performances, generations of music lovers may never discover

us. Seattle Opera has huge obstacles standing in the way of participating in

the new world created by new technology and relating to the next generation

of audiences; obstacles such as collective bargaining agreements with

outdated rules that make producing more than 3-5 minutes of digital content

impossible. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry is flooding the market

with both free and paid experiences that not only enhance the live experience,

but capture the hearts and minds of our future audience. I know, I’m a

mother of a teenager who has been inundated with live opera performances

since the age of four, but because we don’t exist on her iPod, on her computer,

or in what she shares with her friends, on her digital odometer, we are a zero.

Seattle Opera



Seattle Opera strives

to produce musically

extraordinary, theatrically

compelling operas,

employing uniformly high

quality casts, dramatically

aware conductors, and

innovative yet textually

concerned directors and


By continuing our

emphasis on the work of

Richard Wagner and by

achieving national and

international recognition

for the quality of all our

performances, Seattle

Opera commits itself to

advancing the cultural life

of the Pacific Northwest.

Enemy number three: the emergence of

a risk-averse approach to creativity. Art

is about taking risks. Because opera is

a collaborative art form, it demands a

collective risk. Art is at its best when it is

provocative, inquiry-centered, daring us

to explore the world or encounter other

perspectives. In an effort to safeguard

against economic uncertainty, we risk the

biggest potential casualty of this battle:

Creativity. Once creativity succumbs to

convention, we’ve lost the war.

Every battle leaves scars. This season

we said goodbye to colleagues as we

trimmed our operations. We postponed

projects that an aspiring, dedicated

company has every right to achieve. But

we also tuned out the many voices

that predicted failure. Resourcefulness

is a great balm for uncertainty. As we

soldier on, I can’t help but think of what

Winston Churchill said as he neared

the end of World War II: “Difficulties

mastered are opportunities won.” If this

past season is any bellwether for Seattle

Opera, opportunities abound.

—Kelly Tweeddale

• Mainstage Ticket Revenue $11,921,326 42.8%

• Other Earned Income 1,212,464 4.4%

• Contributed Income 14,710,320 52.8%

Total Income 27,844,110 100%

Operating Expenses

• Mainstage $18,706,647 67.2%

• Production Operations 2,303,935 8.3%

• Education 286,909 1.0%

• Young Artists Program 749,948 2.7%

• Fundraising 1,684,696 6.1%

• General Administration

& Facilities 4,023,487 14.4%

Total Operating Exp. 27,755,622

• Inter-Fund Transfers 88,488 0.3%

Total Outflows

Sources 2010

27,844,110 100%

Sources of Contributed Income

• Individuals $10,365,276 70.4%

• Corporations 546,150 3.7%

• Foundations 1,277,107 8.7%

• Government 399,912 2.7%

• Other Institutions 287,395 2.0%

Seattle Opera

Foundation Distribution 1,735,000 11.8%

• Fundraisers, Net 99,480 0.7%

Total Contributed Income $14,710,320 100%


Production Operation




General Administrati

Inter-Fund Transfers





Other Institutions

Seattle Opera Fou

Fundraisers, Net

6 | Seattle Opera

Financial Report

Seattle Opera ended FY 2009/10 with a balanced budget—its seventeenth balanced budget

in 18 years.

The budgets can best be understood by reviewing them in terms of four-year-cycles, as every four years Seattle Opera produces

Wagner’s Ring, the most ambitious—and expensive—undertaking in all of opera. The Opera’s budgets rise significantly during Ring

years since the company is, in effect, presenting four large-scale operas in the summer rather than one, which brings the total number

of operas produced in a year to eight (the company produces five in non-Ring years).

Financial Report

Seattle Opera’s financial statements are audited annually and are available on the website. Please note that Seattle Opera routinely

raises funds in one fiscal year for a production or project that follows in another. To prepare for the Ring, for example, Seattle Opera

starts raising funds years before the actual performances, though the funds are allocated to the fiscal year in which the Ring occurs.

The Ring was most recently mounted during the summer of 2009.

Annual Operating Budgets Actual Actual Actual Actual Budget

2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11

(Ring year)

Number of Performances 44 41 44 45 41

Earned Income

Mainstage Ticket Revenue 8,051,551 7,401,026 8,212,300 11,921,326 9,047,000

Other Earned Income 951,435 1,060,349 1,073,826 1,212,464 1,011,000

Total Earned Income 9,002,986 8,461,375 9,286,126 13,133,790 10,058,000

Contributed Income

Individuals 7,697,932 7,552,678 7,948,846 10,365,276 7,519,000

Corporations 579,000 685,999 760,242 546,150 650,000

Foundations 2,137,423 2,198,997 1,413,012 1,277,107 2,045,000

Government 331,537 388,409 435,218 399,912 390,000

Other Institutions 527,457 551,450 394,809 287,395 399,000

Seattle Opera Foundation Distribution 455,966 908,540 1,186,000 1,735,000 1,650,000

Fundraisers, Net 174,500 124,440 112,116 99,480 398,000

Total Contributed Income 11,903,815 12,410,513 12,250,243 14,710,320 13,051,000

Total Operating Income 20,906,801 20,871,888 21,536,369 27,844,110 23,109,000

Operating Expenses

Mainstage 12,339,220 12,159,817 12,325,262 18,706,647 13,298,000

Production Operations 1,517,537 2,192,548 2,180,805 2,303,935 2,485,000

Education 328,489 344,717 357,531 286,909 279,000

Young Artists Program 603,229 691,821 696,078 749,948 709,000

Fundraising 1,512,555 1,441,663 1,628,883 1,684,696 1,628,000

General Administration & Facilities 4,095,948 3,931,558 4,128,360 4,023,487 4,460,000

Total Operating Expenses 20,396,978 20,762,124 21,316,919 27,755,622 22,859,000

Inter-Fund Transfers 231,763 109,764 219,450 88,488 250,000

Total Outflows 20,628,741 20,871,888 21,536,369 27,844,110 23,109,000

Net Operating Surplus (Deficit)* 278,060 0 0 0 0

Operating Net Assets at June 30 0 0 0 0 0

*The operating deficit that arose in the 2004/05 season was fully retired in 2006/07.

Annual Report 2009/10 | 7

Seattle Opera’s 2009/10 Donors

Thank you to the nearly 7,800 donors who contributed $14.7 million to Seattle Opera, ensuring the 2009/10

season of excellent operas—including the Ring and the world premiere of Amelia, educational programming

to more than 37,000 youths and adults, and the development of young opera talent through the Young

Artists Program. You are sincerely appreciated. Our 2009/10 season donors are listed during the month of

January on our website at

2009/10 Season Sponsor



La traviata

Bruce and Jolene McCaw

Family Foundation

The Hanauer Family

Point B


Il trovatore


Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs


Kreielsheimer Endowment Fund

Nesholm Family Foundation

Mildred King Dunn



The Charles Simonyi Fund for

Arts and Sciences

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts

2009/10 Season Supporters

and Special Support



C.E. Stuart Charitable Trust

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts

Nesholm Family Foundation


The James and Sherry Raisbeck

Lead Singers’ Fund

Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs

The Wallace Foundation

Washington State Arts Commissions

*A complete list of Institutional sponsors

may be found at

Seattle Opera Facts at a Glance

Status: Not-for-profit

Date founded: 1963

Chairman of the Board: John F. Nesholm

President of the Board: Steven C. Phelps

President-Elect: William T. Weyerhaeuser

General Director: Speight Jenkins

Executive Director: Kelly Tweeddale

Programs and Services: Production of mainstage operas

English captions (for all performances)

Opera educational programs

Young Artists Program

Set and costume building

Set and costume rental

Full-Time Regular Staff: 73

Part-Time Employees: 670

Chorus: Seattle Opera Chorus

Orchestra: Composed of members of the Seattle Symphony

and Opera Players’ Organization

Unions: American Guild of Musical Artists


I.A.T.S.E., Local #15 (stage crew and scenic carpenters)

I.A.T.S.E., Local #488 (hair/makeup artists and scenic artists)

T.W.U., Local #887 (costume technicians and wardrobe crew)

Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization

Board of Trustees: 67 members

Advisory Board: 28 members

Seattle Opera Foundation Board: 9 members

BRAVO! Club: 629 members (for operagoers in their 20s and 30s)

Wagner and More (WAM): 89 members

Volunteers: 289

2009/10 Volunteer Hours: 15,715

2009/10 Operating Expenses: $27,755,622

Current (2010/11) Operating Budget: $22,859,000

Seattle Opera Foundation: Net assets of $20,230,375

Paid Attendance: 110,598

Educational Events: 228

Attendees at Educational Events: 37,852

Student Attendance at Dress Rehearsals 3,855

Administrative Offices: 1020 John Street; Seattle, WA 98109


Scenic Studios: Renton, WA

Costume Shop: John Street Building

Warehouse: Kent, WA

Performance Venue: Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

(owned by the City of Seattle;

designed by LMN Architects; Acoustic consultation

by Jaffe Holden, Inc.)

Seating Capacity: 2,893

Above: Final bows of the artists at the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s Amelia. (Rozarii Lynch photo); top right image: Jennifer Zetlan (The Flier), Amelia (Rozarii Lynch photo)

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