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Opera Saratoga's 2019 Fiscal Year Closes with Critical Acclaim for Artistic Programs, Election of New Board President, and Launch of New Opera Saratoga Guild

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  • Dec. 10, 2019, 10a
  • Opera Saratoga
  • 19 Roosevelt Dr, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, Saratoga Springs

At Opera Saratoga's Annual Meeting on Sunday December 8, 2020, a new slate of officers was elected, followed by the announcement of the results from the company's 2019 fiscal year, which closed on September 30, 2019. The company reported another year of artistic and financial success thanks to the generosity, engagement and partnership of communities throughout the lower Adirondack and New York State capital regions.

Board Leadership With the close of Opera Saratoga's 2019 fiscal year in September, Opera Saratoga's Board President, Rosemarie V. Rosen, has stepped down after six years of distinguished service. Ms. Rosen led Opera Saratoga through the strategic planning process that resulted in the appointment of Lawrence Edelson as Artistic and General Director in 2014, and has played an integral role in the recent expansion of the company's programs. "We at Opera Saratoga were fortunate to have Ro Rosen as our President," said Chairman of the Board, Robert C. Miller. "She is smart, decisive and fearless.  Her skills, honed by a career in management, were brought, with clear focus, to address the challenges and opportunities facing Opera Saratoga.  Under her leadership, the opera made great strides, most notably, the hiring of our current Artistic and General Director Larry Edelson, the balancing of the budget, implementing a more fulsome summer season and working toward a year-round artistic presence in this entire area.  We thank her for her hard work, commitment and achievements." Rosen will remain on the Board as a trustee, and will be honored at Opera Saratoga's annual gala, Opera on the Lake, at The Lake George Club on June 7th, 2020. 

At the Annual Meeting, the FY20 slate of officers was unanimously elected. Robert C. Miller continues his leadership as Chairman of the Board, alongside newly elected President, Martha S. Strohl. Ms. Strohl, a retired executive whose impressive career as Director of Human Resources for 26 international companies under the Readers Digest brand took her around the globe. Most recently, Ms. Strohl served as Vice President of the Board of Opera Saratoga, and has been active with the company since 2000.    "My passionate support of Opera Saratoga is a result of my respect for the company's leadership, both from staff and Board; its choice of programming, both traditional and contemporary; its remarkable support of young artists; and its deep, year-round engagement with the community," Ms. Strohl said. "I'm honored to succeed Ro Rosen, who has worked tirelessly to assure Opera Saratoga's success."   In addition to the new appointment of Ms. Strohl as President, Cindy Spencewas elected Vice President, Kenneth Ritzenberg was re-elected Treasurer, and Steve Rosenblum was elected Secretary. 

Financial Results In FY19, Ms. Strohl announced that Opera Saratoga met its projections for ticket sales, while exceeding its budget for fundraising. Combined with careful management of expenses, the company ended FY19 with a surplus. Total revenue in FY19 was $1.271 Million, with expenses of $1.193 Million, resulting in a surplus of just over $77,000. A portion of this surplus is restricted to future program activity, while a portion of the surplus was applied to the company's previously accumulated debt, thereby strengthening Opera Saratoga's financial position. A complete financial report will be available when the company publishes its annual audited financial statements early in the new year.

Over the past five years, Opera Saratoga has seen an increase in ticket sales revenue of over 60%, and an overall increase in philanthropic support of over 250%. Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson attributed the continued strong financial performance to the strength of the company's programming. "Compelling programming is the key to support - whether it be from individuals, foundations, government or corporations," he explained to members of the community gathered for the meeting at Saratoga Arts. "This is why we continue to put the artistic integrity of our programs, and our commitment to education and community engagement, first and foremost. We are deeply grateful for the ongoing and generous support that makes Opera Saratoga's programs possible."

Acclaim from Audiences and Critics The 2018-19 Season began with The Saratoga Sings for Seniors program in the fall, bringing concerts into senior centers, assisted living facilities and memory care facilities across the region; and continued in the winter with the company's Opera-to-Go children's tour of Pinocchio, which reached over 15,000 elementary school children and their families. These programs remain core initiatives for the company, providing access to opera and classical vocal music across a seven-county area of upstate New York. A highlight of the company's free performances for adults were the annual Saratoga Sings of Art and Inspiration concerts, presented this past season in partnership with The Hyde Collection and The Albany Institute of History and Art.

During the 2019 Summer Festival, Opera Saratoga presented productions of the operas La fille du régiment, Hänsel und Gretel, and Ellen West; along with a one-night only performance of Mozart and Salieri. All four productions received critical acclaim both locally and nationally - with notable national coverage received this season from The Wall Street Journal, Opera News and NPR Public Radio.

Mr. Edelson noted that a highlight of the season was the world premiere of Ellen West, by Ricky Ian Gordon and Frank Bidart, for which the company received significant special project funding from both The Poetry Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts. Ellen West was co-commissioned and co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects, who will present the production that originated at Opera Saratoga in New York City this January as part of the PROTOTYPE Festival, marking the first time an Opera Saratoga production has moved to New York City.

"I am incredibly grateful to the entire Opera Saratoga family for making our 2018-19 season such a success. The depth and breadth of work we are doing is not possible without deep commitment from the board, staff, artists, donors, and volunteers," stated Mr. Edelson. "It is through the dedication of so many people that we are able to serve our community, and to ensure that world-class opera remains an integral part of the arts in our region." 

The 2019-20 Season Community programs began this past fall with the return of Saratoga Sings for Seniors. The company's Opera-to-Go program in-schools will once again reach over 15,000 elementary school children in 7 counties across the region. This year, Opera Saratoga tours a new production of Jack and The Beanstalk, and opera based on the classic fairy tale that explores the themes of embracing difference and the importance of working together. In addition to over 50 in-school performances, the company will present a series of free public performances at libraries, museums and community centers between February 29 and April 4, 2020.   The 2020 Summer Festival will open with the annual Stars of Tomorrow Concert on Monday, May 18, presented in partnership with Skidmore College. Opera Saratoga returns to The Mansion Inn for its annual cabaret concerts, this season featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim, on Sunday May 31. The company's annual gala, Opera on The Lake, returns to The Lake George Club, on Sunday June 7. Three operas will be featured as part of the Festival: The Pirates of Penzance (Sullivan/Gilbert), one of the world's most beloved operettas, opens on Friday, June 19; the New York premiere of Sky on Swings (Beecher/Moscovitch), a thought provoking and moving exploration of families dealing with Alzheimer's disease, opens on Saturday, June 20; and Madama Butterfly (Puccini/Illica & Giocosa), opens in a remarkable new production by Japanese theater director Izumi Ashizawa on Friday June 26. The Summer Festival closes on Sunday, July 5 with a special performance of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle. Additional master classes and events will be announced after the new year.   Subscriptions are currently on sale, with early bird discounts with savings of up to 30% off single ticket prices available through December 31. Single tickets will go on sale February 15. Complete casting is available online, and tickets can be purchased at www.operasaratoga.org or by calling 518.584.6018.  

Launch of The Opera Saratoga Guild Since 2001, The Friends of Opera Saratoga have provided invaluable support for the company through volunteerism and fundraising, fostering opportunities for opera lovers in Saratoga Springs, the Capital District, and the lower Adirondacks to share their understanding and appreciation of opera. In recent years, The Friends have encountered challenges sustaining operations as a separate nonprofit entity. Following discussions with the leadership of The Friends and leadership of Opera Saratoga, it was mutually agreed that the spirit and programs of The Friends could be effectively transitioned into a Guild, with similar goals as The Friends, but with expanded programs that are better supported by staff, operated under the auspices of the company.   During the Annual Meeting, Mr. Edelson thanked the members of The Friends for their long-term commitment to the company. He extended special thanks to Robert DeSio, founder of The Friends, who will be honored at the annual Pasta & Puccini dinner on Sunday, April 4th, 2020. He then presented outgoing Friends President, Ellen Riley, with a plaque commemorating her extraordinary tenure leading The Friends.    This season, building upon the success of The Friends, the company is launching a new Opera Saratoga Guild. The purpose of the Opera Saratoga Guild is to enhance the community's enjoyment and appreciation of opera, and to support the goals and objectives of Opera Saratoga, through volunteerism, education, and fundraising.    Guild Membership is $50 for individuals, and $90 for couples. Guild Membership benefits include: Free admission to Guild Lectures throughout the year ($25 each for non-guild members) An exclusive free sneak peek of our annual Opera-to-Go children's opera  Volunteer and leadership opportunities Producing special events, including the annual spring Pasta & Puccini Fundraiser Assisting with mailings and other administrative work at Opera Saratoga Hosting opera artists and providing artist transportation Welcoming summer festival artists on their first day of rehearsals Operating the concession stand at the opera festival performances Membership Directory and exclusive quarterly Guild E-Newsletter  Meeting and socializing with others who share your passion for opera Expanding your appreciation of opera  Knowing that you are making a positive difference in the lives of students, emerging artists, our community, and Opera Saratoga Guild events planned for 2020 include A Festival Scenic Design Preview with Julia Noulin-Mérat, and guild lectures on The Social and Political Satire of Gilbert and Sullivan; and Operatic Traditions, Cultural Appropriation, and Madama Butterfly in the 21st Century. A complete schedule of events will be announced in January.  Additional Information about The Opera Saratoga Guild, may be found at www.operasaratoga.org/guild

About Opera Saratoga Opera Saratoga, formerly known as Lake George Opera, began with a production of Die Fledermaus at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962, playing to an audience of 230. The Company now calls Saratoga Springs home and performs for more than 25,000 people annually. Opera Saratoga serves the communities of Saratoga Springs, the Lower Adirondack and New York State Capital areas by providing access to world-class opera through the production of an annual Summer Festival, as well as year-round activities including extensive educational programs, mentorship of emerging operatic artists, and unique opportunities for the public to experience opera in both our home theater and non-traditional venues that leverage and embrace the unique cultural, historic, and natural resources of the area. To date, the company has produced 104 different fully staged works by 65 different composers, including 42 works by American composers and 14 premiere productions. In 2014, the Board of Directors appointed Lawrence Edelson Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director. Edelson's leadership marked a new chapter in the company's history, with increased emphasis on community partnerships throughout the year, diversification of the company's repertoire, and a reaffirmed commitment to both the presentation of American opera and the mentorship of emerging artists as core activities in the company's programs each season. The 2020 Summer Festival marks the sixth season under his leadership. For more information, visit www.operasaratoga.org.

About Opera Saratoga

19 Roosevelt Dr, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Saratoga Springs, NY

646-765-4773