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Opera Theater cancels 'Carmen Jones'

| Friday, Sept. 23, 2005

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh performances of "Carmen Jones" that had been scheduled for Oct. 7, 8 and 9 at the Byham Theater have been canceled. The production will be rescheduled to dates that have yet to be determined.

Artistic Director Jonathan Eaton said a cluster of problems caused the cancellation. First, the Byham Theater became unavailable for Oct. 8. Opera Theater had scheduled its run of performances based on the strong likelihood all three dates would be available.

Second, Eaton said expected funding had been delayed. He said he understands that some foundations -- he would identify only The Pittsburgh Foundation -- have "deferred grants until November or January because of reprioritizing to aid disaster-relief efforts."

The Opera Theater requested $37,500 for "Carmen Jones" and $75,000 for the 2006 continuation of Richard Wagner's "The Ring of the Niebelungs" from the organizations that are deferring grants.

"Individual donations have also been affected by the desire to help those suffering from Hurricane Katrina, for which one has every sympathy but which makes it very difficult for an organization such as ours to plan ahead," Eaton said.

John Ellis, spokesman for The Pittsburgh Foundation, said the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh is an important cultural organization in the community. "The Pittsburgh Foundation observes privacy with all discussions on negotiations with nonprofit organizations concerning grant applications. However, funds to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts come from a different pool and do not impact on other areas of our grant making."

Eaton also said that internal reorganization and moving the company office and rehearsal facilities to the Stephen Foster Community Center in Lawrenceville had slowed down operations. General manager Helen Knox has resigned to attend to a family member who has become ill.

Eaton said John Federico will join the company as director of development for one day a week and that a full-time development associate would be hired.

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh ended the 2004-05 season with a $90,000 surplus on a budget of $536,000.

Ticketholders for "Carmen Jones" who want a refund should call Steve Conley in the Opera Theater's office at 412-624-3500.

Staff writer William Zlatos contributed to this report.

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