Lyric Opera in the black for 2008-09 season - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera in the black for 2008-09 season

Press Release Letterhead

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lyric Opera in the black for 2008/09 season Sells 93% of its seats and slightly exceeds $18.65 million fund-raising goal thanks to Wine Auction Dietrich M. Gross receives Lyric’s Carol Fox Award

Lyric Opera of Chicago sold 93% of its seating capacity for the 2008/09 season and will record a surplus of about $100,000 thanks to exceeding its fundraising goal of $18.65 million.

Lyric’s operating expenses for 2008/9 were $54.9 million. Ticket revenue for the 82-performance season was $27.96 million. The company raised more than $18.65 million in contributions, of which $1.2 million came from Wine Auction 2009. Fully audited financial statements will be issued in August.

Lyric has operated in the black for 21 of the past 22 years—a record among the country’s major not-for-profit music and performing-arts companies.

Fifty-one percent of the performances in the 2008/09 season sold at 100%. A grand total of 274,591 tickets were sold for the season, which comprised eight productions: Manon, The Pearl Fishers, Lulu, Porgy and Bess, Madama Butterfly, Tristan und Isolde, Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci, and The Abduction from the Seraglio. In addition, the company presented Holly & Ivy, a holiday concert featuring the Lyric Opera Chorus conducted by chorus master Donald Nally with Sir Andrew Davis on the organ; and two student performances of Pagliacci.

Commenting on the company’s year-end results, William Mason, general director of Lyric Opera, said, “We are pleased with our positive financial results, particularly in light of the current economy. However, we must also state that were it not for extraordinary success of the Wine Auction, which is held every three years, we would not be in the positive financial position we are today. In addition, the decline in the investment markets has damaged the Lyric endowment. We expect the fiscal year decline to be approximately 26%, or $39 million in net assets for the year. As we look forward, the recession is most certainly affecting our ability to sell tickets and raise money for 2009/10. As a result, we are curtailing spending wherever possible, including freezing staff salaries and not filling certain vacant positions for the 2009/10 season. Overall expenses will be reduced by $1.7 million over the 2008/09 season.”

Mason reported that total operating expenses for fiscal year 2010 are projected at $53.2 million, with a fundraising goal set at $16.6 million. Lyric’s Annual Meeting Dinner, a fundraising event for the company, took place May 18 at the Four Seasons Hotel and was cosponsored by Kirkland & Ellis, LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP. Mr. Dietrich M. Gross, a Lyric board member since 1989, received Lyric’s highest honor, the Carol Fox Award. Mr. Gross has sponsored 14 different Lyric productions.

The Annual Meeting Dinner is a project of the Women’s Board. Annual Meeting chairman: Mrs. Lisbeth Stiffel. Women’s Board president: Mrs. Richard Durkes.

Lyric’s 2009/10 season opens on September 26 with Puccini's Tosca starring Deborah Voigt, Vladimir Galouzine, and James Morris.