The San Diego Opera is getting some high-profile public relations help after backlash grew over its board’s decision to close at the end of this month.
PR professional Mark Fabiani, who also acts as special counsel for the San Diego Chargers, has signed on to work with the opera – for free.
“I was asked to help by a Board member, and agreed to assist on a pro bono basis because the SD Opera has been such an important part of this community,” Fabiani told NBC 7 in an email Friday.
It’s unclear how long he will be working with the company or in what capacity.
The discovery of Fabiani’s participation came the same day opera supporters forced the board to reconsider its decision to shutter the financially strapped company.
However, after a three-hour meeting Friday afternoon, one board member said there is still not enough money for the opera’s 50th season.
The company needs $10 million to run through next year, the board president said earlier this month. On April 6, member Carol Lazier donated $1 million, but it's not enough.
Unless other big donors come forward, the opera will close on April 29.
Hundreds of employees still hope for a solution that will save their jobs and the music they love.
“These people that are in every production, have to attend every rehearsal, every performance, so it’s a huge part our income,” said chorus member Erica Austin.
But according to board member Pam Slater-Price, even though 20,000 signatures were gathered to keep the opera open, the board has not seen the money to back it up.
“And quite candidly, we still have seats available for tonight’s performance,” Slater-Price said.
Chorus members make about $15,000 per season. The opera’s top two executives, Ian Campbell and his ex-wife Ann Spira Campbell, made a combined total of nearly one million dollars this season.
Board members promise those executives will not receive any extra severance pay if the opera shuts down and sell its assets.
The opera's closing performance of "Don Quixote" will be Sunday, April 13.