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Strong Community Support, Growth of New Audiences, and Commitment to Developing New Works Lead to Successful Close to Opera Theatre’s FY2013

Strong Community Support, Growth of New Audiences, and Commitment to Developing New Works Lead to Successful Close to Opera Theatre’s FY2013

OTSL ends its 38th fiscal year with 14% growth in net assets

St. Louis, MO, December 9, 2013 – Maintaining a 38-year track record of fiscal strength, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has reported unaudited results for the year ending September 30, 2013, including total operating income and expenses of $9.4 million. Total net assets grew by nearly $4.6 million, from $32.5 million to $37.1 million. This increase is attributable primarily to generous contributions to, and careful stewardship of, the company’s endowment fund. Opera Theatre has never accumulated a deficit in its 38-year history, and is now working to secure needed support to ensure the success of its ambitious 2014 season.

Several factors account for year-over-year growth in FY13:

• The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s previously announced three-year $1 million “challenge grant” to support a cycle of new works inspired 358 Opera Theatre donors to make either new or increased gifts during FY13, the first year of the challenge. Opera Theatre must raise a total of $1.5 million in such new and increased gifts in order to secure the Mellon Foundation’s $1 million grant.

• In total, contributions designated for productions and operating support exceeded $5 million for the first time in OTSL’s history, increasing by 17% over fiscal year 2012.

All three major Opera Theatre fundraising events exceeded net goals in FY13. This includes the Spring Gala chaired by Danny and Susan Ludeman, OTSL’s annual Wine and Beer Tasting, chaired by Diane Dark and Gina and Lee Hoagland, and the annual Holiday Celebration, chaired by Mr. and Mrs. William C. Rusnack.

• Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices series, a three-year cycle of new American operas, launched with the world premiere of Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer’s critically acclaimed Champion. The opera was attended at 98% capacity, and became the highest-selling premiere in Opera Theatre’s history. New audiences accounted for 28% of all households during the Wells Fargo Advisors 2013 Festival Season, with Young Friends attendance growing 10% over 2012’s record numbers. Family attendance also climbed, with three times as many “family four packs” sold.

• Opera Theatre received an unprecedented level of national, international, and local press for its 2013 season, including three articles in The New York Times, two articles in The Wall Street Journal, reviews in The Financial Times (London), The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, The Denver Post, and the Dallas Morning News, and features in Out Magazine, PBS’s “Tavis Smiley Show,” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Additionally, a syndicated feature on the AP wire ran in more than 600 publications around the world, including The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, and The New York Daily News.

The close of the 2013 fiscal year marks the conclusion of Timothy O’Leary’s first five years serving as Opera Theatre’s General Director, working with Opera Theatre’s board chairman Spencer Burke, whose tenure also began in 2008. During this period, Opera Theatre has earned accolades for quality and adventurous programming, has successfully attracted a younger and more diverse audience, and has built the value of its endowment portfolio from $16.5 million to $26.1 million, a growth of 58%. The company has also achieved 26% growth in contributed annual support over the same five-year period.

“We are deeply grateful to the St. Louis community, to our board, to our National Patrons Council, our subscribers, and to the staff, volunteers, and artists who make Opera Theatre’s mission possible,” says Mr. O’Leary. “We are looking forward to another landmark season in 2014 thanks to this inspiring team effort.”

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2014 Festival Season features the second world premiere in its New Works, Bold Voices series: Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s Twenty-Seven, which has been written for internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and also features the return of famed soprano Elizabeth Futral. The season also includes a new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute which will be directed and designed by fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi, Donizetti’s comedy The Elixir of Love, featuring international Operalia competition winner René Barbera, and Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, which features the return of two star sopranos beloved by OTSL audiences, Christine Brewer and Kelly Kaduce. Subscriptions to the 2014 season are currently available at Holiday gift packages are available by calling the box office at (314) 961-0664. Single tickets go on sale February 22, 2014.

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. With the completion of the 2013 season, Opera Theatre has presented 23 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 typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.

Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation. Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, and Lawrence Brownlee. 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 (1992 – present) as music director. Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham. For more information, visit

Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 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.