Lyric Opera expanded audience, balanced books with help from reserves

Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 7:24 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

The Lyric Opera increased attendance 15% in 2012-13, largely through its expanded non-opera events. Still, the company had to dip into its reserve fund for nearly $5 million to balance the books.

Speaking to the annual meeting Monday night at the Four Seasons, general director Anthony Freud lauded the fact that 27,000 people had purchased Lyric Opera tickets for the first time and again stressed the need for the company to reach new audiences.

“I firmly believe that companies like Lyric must become more relevant to larger sections of our society—both audiences and funders,” said Freud. “To do that we must reach more of them through our mainstage opera activities as well as new activities such as those offered through Lyric Unlimited and our American Musical Theater Initiative.”

Lyric’s operating expenses for 2012-13 were $64.7 million while ticket revenue was $26.6 million, up slightly from $25 million the previous year. Still, the company had to mine $4.8 million from its Campaign for Excellence reserve fund to balance its books, a million more than last year.

Longtime benefactors Richard P. Kiphart, chairman of the board, and Susan Kiphart received the company’s Carol Fox Award at Monday’s event.

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