Dallas Opera Achieves First Balanced Operating Budget Since 2005

The Dallas Opera is proud to announce today that the company has achieved its first balanced operating budget since Fiscal 2005, a full two years ahead of schedule. The company's latest fiscal year ended on June 30th.

Exactly two years ago, the Dallas Opera faced its most severe financial crisis in modern company history, prompting the TDO Boardand General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, who assumed the role in May of 2010, to initiate an aggressive restructuring of company operations. This included the difficult step of cancelling one of the mainstage operas of the 2011-2012 Season, and reducing the 2012-2013 Season to three mainstage operas. These steps were taken as part of a multi-year plan to restore the company's financial health while maintaining artistic quality, and to achieve a balanced operating budget no later than the end of the 2014-2015 Season.

The subsequent outpouring of board, trustee and public support allowed the company to build a base of multi-year donor commitments, to secure major new gifts, earn an anonymous $10 million dollar match (through an equal amount in donations to the Cultural Renaissance Endowment Fund), dramatically reduce costs without sacrificing overall artistic quality, and steadily reduce the company's deficits.

In recent fiscal years, TDO donors made significant, multi-year gifts while many other donors increased their level of giving in recognition of the Dallas Opera's commitment to the highest standards of artistic quality, strict financial discipline and a demonstrated ability to adapt to the changing marketplace.

At the same time, the company moved boldly ahead with plans for two free Cowboys Stadium Simulcasts that attracted close to 30,000 patrons, and several new productions (including critically acclaimed versions of Tristan & Isolde, The Lighthouse and The Aspern Papers) in addition to two upcoming world premieres: Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer's EVEREST slated for February of 2015, followed in October 2015 by the world premiere of Jake Heggie (Moby-Dick) and Terrence McNally's first new opera together in more than a decade, GREAT SCOTT, which will star world-renowned mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

After careful analysis, the Board and Dallas Opera's administrative leadership took the necessary steps to put the company's financial house in order to provide a foundation for continued artistic success. Aided by unwavering donor and community support, the Dallas Opera last season gave music lovers throughout North Texas outstanding performances of AIDA, TURANDOT, the chamber opera BON APPÉTIT and THE ASPERN PAPERS, while demonstrating our ability to balance the books and plan for expanded future seasons. This gave the Dallas Opera the firm footing required to return to a four-opera season (with an additional world premiere) in 2013-2014, the first season entirely planned under the direction of Keith Cerny.

"However, it's vital that we not lose our momentum because our task is far from finished," explains Mr. Cerny. "We must remain resolute in meeting all future financial and fund-raising goals while continuing to engage every sector of the community in TDO's quest for new and more diverse audiences.

"Even in our most difficult days, during which we cut TDO's full-time administrative staff by more than fifteen percent, we committed ourselves to expanding the Dallas Opera's community outreach and education programs, dramatically increasing the number of students served and introducing entire families to the excitement of this unique art form.

"While no one can predict the future of the economy," he adds, "with astute leadership from the Dallas Opera Board and Trustees and the support of all our loyal patrons, we can continue to build on these hard-fought achievements in seasons to come."

Noted Dallas Opera Board Chairman T. Peter Townsend:

"On behalf of the Board and everyone at the Dallas Opera, I want to express our thanks for the grassroots community support of the company-as well as the encouragement we receive from our patrons to maintain extraordinarily high artistic standards in every production, and from our peers in the Arts District as we continue to explore ways to make our collective organizations even more cost-efficient and responsive.

"I also want to express my gratitude to the members of the Dallas Opera's dedicated staff who contribute every day to the success of this company.

"The esteemed London-based publication, Opera, in a rave review of our recent production of The Aspern Papers, wrote this month that the Winspear 'quite justifiably...has come to be recognized as America's finest opera house.' It is only fitting that the Dallas Opera should constantly strive to create the finest performances imaginable in this beautiful gift from-and to-the people of Texas."


  • Cut operating expenses by reducing the core TDO season from six performances per production to five by combining existing audiences for Friday night performances and altered other key aspects of the Dallas Opera's business model.
  • Raised $10 million in donations for the Cultural Renaissance Endowment Fund in order to secure a $10 million anonymous match.
  • Created a new giving category at the Dallas Opera, "The General Director's Circle" to recognize donors willing to commit for a minimum of three years, generating more than $7 million in pledges.
  • Steadily reduced the company's operating deficit each season and paid-off seasonal lines of credit.
  • Secured generous major gifts in addition to the $10 million from an anonymous donor for TDO's Endowment Fund: Texas Instruments and Texas Instruments Foundation with gifts totaling over half a million dollars; the Elsa von Seggern Foundation with gifts totaling nearly $600,000 and another $500,000 from Crow Holdings; as well as other major gifts, yet to be announced.
  • Instituted a new chamber opera series allowing the company to take performances outside the traditional opera house to more intimate settings including the Wyly Theatre, Dallas Children's Theater and the Dallas Farmer's Market Demonstration Kitchen.
  • Attracted additional new donors through the introduction of innovative technologies and delivery systems, including two groundbreaking Cowboys Stadium Simulcasts.
  • Elevated the efficiency level of TDO both on and off-stage and continue to explore other means to cut costs and save on day-to-day operations.

The 2013-2014 "By Love Transformed" Season officially opens with our first CARMEN to be performed in the critically acclaimed acoustic of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. This will be the Dallas Opera's sixth production of CARMEN in our 56-year-history. Bizet's masterpiece will be conducted by Maestro Emmanuel Villaume, the esteemed new music director of the Dallas Opera, in his thrilling debut in that role. Previously, Maestro Villaume appeared at the Dallas Opera podium to conduct productions of Gounod's Faust (1998) and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (2002).

Subscriptions for the Dallas Opera's 2013-2014 "By Love Transformed" Season are on sale now, starting at just $76 for all four mainstage productions, through the Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or online at www.dallasopera.org.

Single tickets are on sale now, starting at just $19. Student Rush best-available tickets can be purchased at the lobby box office for $25 to $50, depending on the section, (one per valid Student I.D.) ninety minutes prior to each performance.

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