Seattle Opera Achieves Balanced Budget for 2010/11 Season – Aleksandra Kurzak and Zandra Rhodes Named Seattle Opera Artists of the Year

SeattleOn Tuesday, August 9, at Seattle Opera’s Annual Meeting at McCaw Hall, the company announced that it achieved a balanced budget (unaudited) for the 2010/11 season, which included productions of Tristan und Isolde, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Barber of Seville, Don Quichotte, and The Magic Flute.
The original budget for the season totaled more than $23 million; the total expense budget for the season, unaudited, is projected to be just less than $21.5 million.

“Thanks to diligent planning, including a quick response to adverse financial conditions, hard work and sacrifices from staff and artists, and extraordinary contributions from our community, Seattle Opera has balanced its budget for the eighteenth time in nineteen years,” says Board President Dr. William T. Weyerhaeuser. “On behalf of Seattle Opera’s Board of Trustees, I’d like to thank everyone who works for Seattle Opera for giving their all in a season that included furloughs, pay freezes, and modified contracts.”

Since the economic downturn of 2008, Seattle Opera’s planning process has stressed creativity, innovation, and frugality.
For instance, the company’s production of Tristan und Isolde used projection technology in new and experimental ways.
Lucia di Lammermoor featured scenery re-designed from another Seattle Opera production.
Don Quichotte and The Magic Flute were inventive, cost-efficient new productions, rivaling the cost of a rental production but offering full creative control.
Once the season was underway, the company took additional measures to ensure that the budget would balance.
Furloughs and administrative efficiencies reduced the operations budget, while a modified approach to producing opera further reduced costs.
At the same time, a vibrant and innovative new program of education and community engagement—which featured new community partners, events such as “The Barber of Seattle” and “Flute-a-palooza”, and lively social networking and online content—generated interest in the company’s offerings and kept ticket sales and participation strong.
More than 27,000 people participated in Seattle Opera’s non-mainstage programs this season.
Seattle Opera’s 2010/11 budget benefited from the lack of any accumulated deficit.
Crucial to the balanced budget this season were the remaining funds in the company’s five-year, $10 million dollar Artistic Campaign, as well as funds raised in support of the new Innovation Initiative.
In anticipation that the tough economic climate will continue, Seattle Opera has consolidated its 2011/12 performance schedule and will maintain many of the cost-reduction measures put in place in the 2010/11 season.

“Thanks to all of the efforts of the company and our community, Seattle Opera balanced its budget again this season,” says Board Chairman John Nesholm. “I applaud the extraordinary leadership of our Board President, Dr. William T. Weyerhaeuser, as well as that of Maryanne Tagney-Jones and Ron Hosogi, co-chairs of Seattle Opera’s Innovation Initiative Committee, which, looking ahead, will be the key to continuing our long tradition of artistically compelling opera.”

Artists of the Year

Also announced at Tuesday’s meeting: the company’s 2010/11 Artists of the Year awards went to Aleksandra Kurzak for singing the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor in October, 2010, and to Zandra Rhodes, Costume Designer for The Magic Flute in May 2011.

“Aleksandra Kurzak gave us one of the great Lucias of my life, vocally and dramatically” said Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera.“She suggested Lucia’s condition and both acted and sang her madness with unforgettable panache.”

In demand all over the world for soprano roles both comic (Susanna, Rosina, Fiorilla, Adina) and tragic (Lucia, Violetta, Gilda, Donna Anna), Kurzak recently signed an exclusive recording contract with Decca.
After making her role debut as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte in Los Angeles Opera’s new production this fall, she’ll sing her first Mimì in La bohème in Naples in May 2012.

“Zandra Rhodes, a leader in fashion for many years, opened her imagination to create the most extraordinarily fanciful costumes for The Magic Flute,” said Jenkins. “Their greatest virtue was that no matter how exotic or colorful, they never overwhelmed the musical and dramatic realization of the different characters.”

Rhodes has designed for clients such as Diana, Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Taylor, and Freddie Mercury.
Her unique use of bold prints, fiercely feminine patterns, and theatrical use of colour give her garments a timeless quality that makes each one unmistakably a Rhodes creation.
In addition to The Magic Flute, she has designed productions of The Pearl Fishers and Aida.

In 1991, Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year award was created to honor the individual singer, conductor, director, or designer who had made the most significant contribution to the success of the season.
At the conclusion of the 2003/04 season, Seattle Opera began honoring two Artists of the Year for each season: one a conductor, director, or designer; the other a singer. Participating in the selection process of Seattle Opera’s Artists of the Year are members of Seattle Opera’s Board of Trustees, Diamond Level and Platinum Circle donors, and staff, as well as selected members of the local press.
This is the company’s twenty-first annual selection of Artist of the Year.

Online “Audience Favorite” Poll
In an online poll conducted on Seattle Opera’s Blog and Facebook Page in July 2011, Lucia di Lammermoor was voted “Favorite Opera of the 2010/11 Season.”

Board of Trustees News
Seattle Opera’s 2011/12 Board of Trustees was elected at the Annual Meeting. Newly elected Seattle Opera Board Trustees include Richard Gemperle and Ken Willman.
Press Contacts:
Jonathan Dean

Tamara Vallejos

Visuals Contact:
Monte Jacobson

Biographies of 2010/11 Artists of the Year

Aleksandra Kurzak
Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak made her Seattle Opera debut as Lucia last fall. She made her professional opera debut at at the Wroclaw State Opera, singing Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with her mother and voice teacher Jolanta Żmurko in the role of the Countess.
Her roles at the Metropolitan Opera include Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Olympia in Offenbach’s Contes d’Hoffmann, and Blonde in Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail. Singing Fiorilla in Rossini’s Il turco in Italia at Royal Opera Covent Garden in April, 2010, she made headlines when, because her flight to London was canceled due to a volcano ash cloud, Kurzak hired a taxi from Poland to the U.K.
Other roles at Royal Opera include Aspasia in Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto, Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Adina in Donizetti’s Elisir d’amore, the title role in Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran, and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Recent performances include Amenaide in Rossini’s Tancredi and Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Vienna, and Gilda at La Scala and Hamburg.
She has also been seen at Berlin Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Teatro Regio in Parma, and Teatro Massimo in Palermo, among others. Upcoming, she will appear as Fiordiligi in Los Angeles, Lucia in Warsaw, Adina in Vienna, Gretel at the Met, Susanna in London and Milan, and Mimì in Naples.
Aleksandra Kurzak has an exclusive recording contract with DECCA.

Zandra Rhodes
Born in Chathan, Kent, in 1940, Zandra Rhodes was introduced to the world of fashion by her mother.
Rhodes studied at Medway College and then at the Royal College of Art in London. When her early textile designs were considered too outrageous by traditional British manufacturers, she decided to make dresses from her own fabrics and, in 1967, opened her first shop in London.
With her bright pink hair, theatrical make-up and art jewellery, she has stamped her identity on the international world of fashion.
She has designed for clients as diverse as Diana, Princess of Wales, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Freddie Mercury of the rock group ‘Queen.”
Helen Mirren wore a Zandra recently when she received her award from BAFTA in Beverly Hills, and Sarah Jessica Parker dressed up in a Zandra in “Sex and the City.” She made her opera debut designing costumes for Mozart’s The Magic Flute for San Diego Opera in 2001; these costumes, including several new designs, won her the Seattle Opera Artist of the Year Award for 2010/11.
Rhodes has also designed productions of Bizet’s Pearl Fishers and Verdi’s Aida.
She was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1997 in recognition of her contribution to fashion and textiles.

Seattle Opera 2011/2012 Board of Trustees

John F. Nesholm

Dr. William T. Weyerhaeuser

Maryanne Tagney-Jones

Gary Houlahan

Chairman Emeritus
William P. Gerberding

Vice Presidents
Richard Albrecht
Thomas H. Allen
Rosemarie Anderson
Steven A. Clifford
James D. Cullen
Tracy B. Edgers
James R. Faulstich
Diana Gale
Max E. Gellert
Paul Goodrich
Jay Lapin
Louise Miller
Steven C. Phelps
James David Raisbeck
Dana A. Rasmussen
Jonathan Rosoff
Stephen A. Sprenger
Moya Vazquez

Re-elected Trustees
Dick Albrecht
Tom Allen
Kim Anderson
Steve Clifford
Jim Cullen
Tracy Edgers
Bill Gerberding
Tom Lemly
Dana Rasmussen
Delphine Stevens
Moya Vazquez
Joan Watjen
Judy Whetzel
Kathy Wilcox
Scott Wyatt

New Trustees
Richard Gemperle
Ken Willman

Representatives to the Board
Florence Rose Thompson, Seattle Opera Guild
Karen Urlie, Seattle Opera Chorus
Andrea Bettger, Bravo! Club
Tim Hale, The Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Association

About Porgy and Bess

Seattle Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess, which opened on July 30 to rave reviews, stars Gordon Hawkins and Lisa Daltirus in the title roles, a handful of exciting young singers making Seattle debuts, and an all-local chorus.
This powerful story of life and love in an African-American community in South Carolina boasts some of the most beloved songs ever written, including “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin,’ ” “I Loves You, Porgy,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
Porgy and Bess runs through Saturday, August 20.
The production is sponsored by the Kreielsheimer Endowment Fund.
Single tickets start at $25 and are available online at, by calling 206.389.7676 or 800.426.1619, or by mobile browser at
Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office by visiting 1020 John Street (two blocks west of Fairview), Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

About Seattle Opera

Founded in 1963, Seattle Opera is one of the leading opera companies in the United States.
The company is recognized internationally for its theatrically compelling and musically accomplished performances, especially the Opera’s interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner.
Since 1975, Seattle Opera has presented 38 cycles of the Ring (three different productions), in addition to acclaimed productions of all the other major operas in the Wagner canon.
Regionally vital, with robust education and community engagement programs, Seattle Opera has achieved the highest per capita attendance of any major opera company in the United States, and draws operagoers from four continents and 50 states.


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