Chautauqua Opera has unveiled their plans for the future amidst the financial challenges they are currently facing.
According to an official press statement, Chautauqua, like many other performing arts organizations, is grappling with uncertainties and obstacles as the industry, which they largely state is due to COVID-19. This has prompted the company to deeply reflect on the future of opera in America, particularly at Chautauqua, which boasts the distinction of being North America's oldest continuously operating summer opera company and the fourth oldest in the nation. If we are completely honest, the company has been mismanaging funds and the board has been making poor decisions prior to COVID-19- as is current with the trend of a lot of American opera institutions.
The company acknowledges that their current opera model at Chautauqua relies on subsidies from Institution operations on an annual basis. Historically, they have made efforts to modify productions repeatedly to control expenses. However, with the rising costs of labor, housing, security, and supplies, they state it has become increasingly challenging to present major professional productions while also witnessing a decline in attendance, which mirrors national trends.
Chautauqua Opera recognizes the need for change and is engaging in conversations with patrons to envision a revitalized Chautauqua Opera Company and Conservatory. The goal is to establish it as an incubator for new American operatic and vocal works, as well as a platform for the talented artists who will bring them to life.
Under the new model, Conservatory students will still receive rigorous training in canonical works, while also collaborating with Chautauqua Opera Company's young artists and guest artists in workshops dedicated to newly commissioned operas. Additionally, the new approach means that major productions will no longer be presented at Norton Hall, which has been the traditional home of Chautauqua Opera. The complete transition to the new model is expected to take place in 2025, with a reduced slate of productions planned for 2024.
Michael Chioldi is also appealing to the audience to provide testimonials for Chautauqua Opera after the company's recent announcement about its financial struggles.
In a social media statement, the baritone expressed his concern, stating,
"Greetings to all my Facebook friends. I am reaching out to you today with an urgent plea regarding the precarious state of another cherished institution. The Board of Directors at The Chautauqua Institute has made a decision that will significantly diminish The Chautauqua Opera. I, along with several others who recognize the importance of this art form and have been associated with the Chautauqua Opera, am currently investigating the situation. Meanwhile, there is a form available for you to provide your feedback. I will keep everyone updated as soon as possible. We are exploring various avenues, such as fundraising and raising awareness, to address the financial challenges. However, it's uncertain whether the board will be receptive. Please help spread the word by sharing this message."
You can access the form by clicking the button below.