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Opera Theatre Achieves Marked Growth in Attendance and Sales During 2012 Season

St. Louis, MO, June 27, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis general director Timothy O’Leary announced that the company’s 37th season yielded increased sales and continued growth in the size and diversity of its audience, a cornerstone of the company’s strategic plan adopted in 2009. 

 The company’s Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season attracted 25,187 attendees, the highest in seven years.  Box office sales surpassed the budgeted goal of $1.8 million, with audiences once again traveling not only from every zip code in the metropolitan St. Louis area, but also from all corners of the United States and Canada, as well as at least a dozen foreign countries. 

 Detailed box office results include the following:

  • Subscription sales increased by 5% over 2011, bucking a 16-year trend for Opera Theatre and overall national sales trends for performing arts organizations. Total subscription and single ticket revenue increased 18.3%. 


  • New audiences continued to grow over 2011’s record numbers, with first time households accounting for 29% of all attendees – up 6% in one year. First-time subscription households accounted for 16.5% of all subscription sales.


  • Young Friends admissions were up 132% over 2011’s record-setting participation, with all three in-season Young Friends events sold out and new, additional Young Friends programs added by popular demand.


  • Of first time audiences, 17.8% identified as being part of an ethnic minority (African-American, Latino, Asian-American, or multi-ethnic), marking substantial growth in the diversity of the Opera Theatre audience.


Opera Theatre also experienced increased participation by several other measures this season:

  • 34 writers from national and international print and online publications came to review the Opera Theatre season, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times (London), Chicago Tribune, and the Dallas Morning News.


  • Opera Theatre’s Spring Gala, held on Saturday, May 5, raised a record $728,000 for the company’s annual fund and attracted nearly 450 guests. The event was chaired by Noémi Neidorff, with honorary chair Donna Wilkinson and co-chair Kara O’Leary.


  • Attendance in Opera Theatre’s education programs increased across all summer camps, with a 30% student increase at Opera Theatre’s annual Spring Training Vocal Camp for High School Students over 2011. Overall, Opera Theatre’s education programs reach 11,000 students from 21 school districts annually.


The Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season featured four productions from across four centuries – Mozart’s Così fan tutte (1791), Bizet’s Carmen (1875), Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd (1979), and the American premiere of Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang’s Alice in Wonderland (2007). The Chicago Tribune wrote, Having produced 22 world premieres and 23 first American performances in the course of its 37-year history, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis can make a plausible claim to being the go-to U.S. opera company when it comes to advancing new repertory.”

Opera Theatre’s 2013 season opens on May 25, 2013 with Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and continues with the much-anticipated return of Kelly Kaduce in a double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. In 2013, Opera Theatre will also produce its 23rd world premiere, Champion, an opera in jazz by five-time Grammy Award-winner Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Cristofer. The season concludes with Smetana’s buoyant rarity The Kiss.


About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis


Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2012 Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company. Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.  Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named General Director in October 2008 with Stephen Lord continuing as music director and acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.


Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.


Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.