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San Diego Opera officially parts ways with director Ian Campbell

originally posted by The Los Angeles Times
May 15, 2014

Ian Campbell, the long-serving general and artistic director of San Diego Opera, has officially parted ways with the company following a contentious two months during which the decision to close the organization was met with a significant backlash.

San Diego Opera placed Campbell and his ex-wife, Ann Spira Campbell, on paid leave from the company in late April. (Spira Campbell served as the company’s deputy general director.)

A company spokesman said on Thursday that the Campbells are no longer employed by the opera. He said he was unable to elaborate on their departure from the company

A prepared statement from the company said that the three parties “have ended their formal association with each other.” The opera said that they “have agreed to try and resolve their differences in an amicable manner, and no further comments will be made at this time.”

In March, the company, under Ian Campbell’s leadership, announced that it would be closing due to financial difficulties stemming from declining box-office receipts and donations. But some members of the opera’s board of directors — along with groups of employees and performers — fought back against the decision, which they claim was made in haste.

Since then, the company’s board president, Karen Cohn, resigned along with several other members. The opera’s new board president is Carol Lazier.

Under its new leadership, the company has been looking to raise at least $6.5 million toward a 2015 season. A crowd-funding effort alone has raised more than $2 million toward the goal.

Campbell has been publicly criticized for his role in pushing for the March decision to close. Much of the criticism has focused on his salary, which has long topped $500,000 a year. Unlike leaders of most similarly sized opera companies, Campbell has held two roles: general and artistic director.

Campbell joined the company in 1983. The Australia native previously worked at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the State Opera of South Australia in Adelaide.

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