Jordan Levin

Florida Grand Opera performances back on next season in Broward

The Florida Grand Opera in "The Barber of Seville," which they will perform in Fort Lauderdale next season.
The Florida Grand Opera in "The Barber of Seville," which they will perform in Fort Lauderdale next season.

The Florida Grand Opera will continue performing in Broward County next season, thanks to an anonymous benefactor who has given more than $200,000.

In January, the group said it needed to raise $400,000 or it would have to abandon shows at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, leaving Florida’s oldest performing arts group active only in Miami-Dade.

It was saved by a single generous patron who promised to match any contributions with his own. Not only did he match $184,000 from 139 smaller donors, he gave an additional $15,000 so the FGO would meet its goal. The group will perform two popular classics, Rossini’s comic The Barber of Seville and Bellini’s tragedy Norma, at the BCPA during the 2015-2016 season. (Shows at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center also include Weinberg’s The Passenger, and Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.)

“Thanks to the incredible generosity of our anonymous donor, we are pleased to be able to continue to perform in Broward County for another year,” said FGO general director and CEO Susan T. Danis.

The additional donations included one $25,000 and several $10,000 gifts, as well as 68 from first-time donors.

The FGO has seen its audiences and donations in Broward shrink drastically in the past decade, capped by a $125,000 shortfall this season. Those problems are part of a larger struggle that has seen the opera cut its staff from 44 to 18, its budget from a high of $22 million to $8.5 million this season, and the number of operas from six to four in Miami and two in Broward. Last November the group announced an ambitious $17.5 million, three-year fundraising campaign; thus far, it has raised $1 million.

Danis said the opera would announce a major gift within the next month, and that there was a lot of interest in The Passenger, about a former prisoner and guard from a Holocaust concentration camp. But she also said they would probably scale back their fundraising goals to be less ambitious and long-term.

“We have some exciting announcements coming up,” she said. “We’re evaluating where we are and re-thinking about how we get to that $17.5 million goal.”

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