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San Antonio Opera to file for bankruptcy

April 17, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • Jose Carreras performing in Barcelona. Carreras was used in the promotional materials for San Antonio Opera before it fell on hard financial times.
Jose Carreras performing in Barcelona. Carreras was used in the promotional… (Andreu Dalmau )

In a move that could mark the final chapter in a financial tailspin, the San Antonio Opera will file for liquidation bankruptcy within the next 20 days. The organization, which began its 16th season in September, also faces a federal lawsuit from the American Federation of Musicians alleging that the company still owes musicians payments from a canceled production from January 2010.

The San Antonio Opera's lawyer, Randy Osherow, told the San Antonio Express-News that he believed the musicians' suit would become part of the bankruptcy claim and that the company will also cancel upcoming performances of "Don Giovanni" and "Barber of Seville." Osherow also said that the San Antonio Opera currently has no assets or staff, and will file for liquidation as soon as the documents were ready to notify season subscribers and musicians, who will become claimants in the bankruptcy claim.

The organization's freefall seems to have started in November 2011 when founder and Artistic Director Mark Richter departed, and his interim successor left only two months later when the company could not meet payroll.

Oddly, the apparent fall of San Antonio Opera comes as another opera organization, Opera Theater San Antonio, is in ascendance. The company plans to stage its first gala in May 2013 with the San Antonio Symphony, and will present its first operas in 2015 with the opening of the Tobin Center of the Performing Arts, which is currently under construction. Further details about these operas are planned to be announced in the coming weeks.

"We are interested in operating a financially and qualitatively viable company,” said Mel Weingart, chairman of Opera Theater San Antonio, which seems like a pretty smart way to go.

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