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Opera Pacific Scores Comeback Year

September 10, 1997|CHRIS PASLES

COSTA MESA — In a dramatic financial turnaround fueled by private donations, Opera Pacific, the county's only opera company, on Monday reported a modest profit for its fiscal year.

The unaudited figures, detailed at the company's annual meeting, showed a $11,526 profit, compared with a loss of $951,363 the previous year. The Costa Mesa-based group still has an accumulated deficit of $653,576.

"I feel terrific," general director Patrick L. Veitch said Tuesday. "A turnaround of a million dollars for an organization with a $5-million budget, well, Apple Computers should do so well."

Contributing to the turnaround was an increase in paid attendance, up 11%--to 48,516--over the previous year, which boosted total revenue 2%, to $3,037,707.

Fund-raising jumped 69% over the previous year, reaching an all-time company high of $2,136,000. The bulk of the money, $1,678,570, came from individual donations. Corporate and foundation gifts were also up.

"When people who loved the company heard it was under threat, they stepped up to the plate," Veitch said. "But the accumulated deficit is serious. . . . We're going to have to keep raising this kind of money forever and, in fact, increase it."

In other action, the board of directors voted to reduce its membership from 79 to 58. Similarly, the executive committee was shrunk from 18 to nine members. S. Gayle Widyolar stepped down as chairwoman after two years of service.

She is succeeded by Patrick T. Seaver, a partner with the law firm Lathan and Watkins in Costa Mesa. His initial appointment is for one year.

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The company also announced it had received a $35,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support an as-yet-unnamed production in the 1998-99 season.

Opera Pacific had previously won a $100,000 NEA grant for a production that it subsequently canceled, so it has applied to put that money toward another production.

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