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Summer Opera Cancels 'Merry Widow'

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 22, 2009

The Summer Opera Theatre Company, which has been staging opera for 30 years, announced yesterday that it is canceling this summer's sole production, "The Merry Widow," which was to have played at the Harman Center in August.

The small company had already determined in November that it would not be able to afford to stage two operas, as it had done most years in the past. The gala ball in March "did not achieve the net income goals that we needed it to," said Lisa Winstel, the company's executive director. Despite ticket sales in April that she called "encouraging," not enough money was raised to cover the operating budget (which, in a normal season, is between $600,000 and $800,000, Winstel said).

Despite the cancellation of this year's productions, the company is not folding.

"All of us in the arts have to find a new paradigm," Winstel said. "Summer Opera is going to have the extra breathing room to find out for ourselves what we are going to be. I can't tell you what it will be, because I don't know it. But I can tell you there is energy to discover it. You can't take 30 years of wonderful productions and throw up your hands. We're thankfully not in that position."

The company is sending out a mailing on Tuesday to everyone who has already bought tickets to "The Merry Widow." All ticket-holders will be reimbursed in full.

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