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Opera donations top $2 million

The San Diego Opera has raised $2 million over the past three weeks -- double the goal set by its interim president Carol Lazier -- with the help of a $100,000 donation on Wednesday from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, triggering the release of $500,000 in matching funds from a group of local opera lovers.

The opera board will meet Friday to determine whether it will stay in business through the next season, but with the new influx of cash it seems that its fate is secured, for now at least. Workers have already started preparing for the 2015 season -- the opera’s 50th year in operation.

When Lazier launched the fund-raising drive three weeks ago, she implied it would need to raise at least $1 million before the board met to determine its fate.

The opera crossed that $1 million mark last weekend through Internet-driven crowdsourcing, with contributions ranging from $10 to $50,000. After it hit that goal, local philanthropists Gloria Rasmussen, Jay Merritt and the investment group The Sopranos pledged that if $500,000 more could be raised, they would add an additional $500,000 in matching funds to push the total to $2 million.

Since then, $400,000 came in through crowdsourcing and then came the gift from the Kumeyaay, who have been contributing to the opera since 2003.

“We appreciate what the company has done for our community through their student outreach programs and student ticket initiatives,” said Daniel Tucker, the tribe’s chairman.

But the company, which had previously been projected to run out of cash by next January, will still need to raise more funds to stay afloat. In the meantime, the fate of CEO Ian Campbell -- who was placed on indefinite leave after pushing to shut down the organization -- remains uncertain, although sources say the opera is trying to find an interim director to guide it through the next season.


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