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S.F. Opera given $35 million

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October 05, 2006|From the Associated Press

A longtime patron has pledged $35 million to the San Francisco Opera in one of the largest donations to an American opera company by a single benefactor.

Jeannik Littlefield served on San Francisco Opera's board of directors from 1977 to 1992 and has been a longtime supporter of the company along with her late husband, industrialist Edmund Wattis Littlefield.

The pledge comes without restrictions, and $10 million would go into annual operating expenses, General Director David Gockley said. The rest would augment the company's endowment, which stands at about $90 million, he said.

The gift is expected to keep the company in the black, after it recently emerged from multimillion-dollar budget deficits that had prompted cutbacks and a number of private donations to cover the shortfall.

San Francisco Opera said it was the single largest commitment by an individual received by the company, and to its knowledge, the largest by an individual to any American opera company.

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