It's a tough time to be an opera company. I recently mentioned the closing of Opera Pacific i
n California's Orange County, now the Washington Post reports
that the Washington National Opera has postponed its performances of Wagner's "Ring" cycle until the economic climate improves. Famed opera singer Plácido Domingo, the company's general director, released a statement announcing that the decision was motivated by "the dramatic changes in the nation's economy." The Ring cycle consists of four long operas and was to be a highlight of the 2009-10 season. The cost of showing the four different operas on four consecutive nights often keeps companies away from performing Wagner's mighty work. Often opera companies put on one of the operas per season before doing the whole cycle. The Washington National Opera has already put on the first two
and the third was postponed for a year due to budget cuts and will debut in May 2009. The final opera, "Götterdämmerung" will be offered in two performances with sets or costumes which should help the opera company save between $5 million and $6 million.
The Washington Post article revealed that some other arts organizations in the area are also considering trimming back their schedules. Others are trying to cut expenses at the same time they are also cutting ticket prices to lure in customers. Arts organizations in general get much of their attendance and donations from the older generations, the same people who might now be too worried about their retirement funds to support the arts.