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November 30, 2009

Cutbacks, reshuffling expected at Washington National Opera

Generally reliable sources report a shakeup at Washington National Opera. From what I can gather, it looks like the financial picture is cloudy enough to necessitate a reduction in the number of productions next season (for the second year in a row), a reduction in staff, and a reshuffling of management.

Although Mark Weinstein has been credited with strengthening WNO's financial picture since becoming executive direction in Feb. 2008 (he streamlined the staff a few months into the job and advocated postponing the company's planned "Ring" Cycle because of insufficient funding), he will apparently be moved out of that job (not necessarily out of the company). No sign of any changes to Placido Domingo's role as general director. 

A glance at WNO tax forms reveals financial ups and downs in recent years -- a nearly $8 million deficit in 2006, but a $2.5 million surplus in 2007; an increase in ticket sales in '07 over the previous year, but losses both years from the organization's fundraising/social events (such as the annual ball). The annual budget is around $32 million.


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:01 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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