FGO receives largest gift in its history with donation of $6.8 million building

By Lawrence Budmen


A major donation by an anonymous donor has given Florida Grand Opera a new lease on life.

The company’s 35,000-square-foot Doral headquarters was sold earlier this year to an anonymous donor for $6.8 million. The buyer, in turn gave the facility back to FGO, making the $6.8 million gift the largest in the company’s 75-year history.

FGO officials say the donated building will wipe out its long-running deficit, and allow long range future planning, which has been difficult in recent years due to the necessity of concentrating on imminent financial issues.

The building was rededicated in a brief ceremony last Friday.

Between 2006 and 2013, FGO incurred $19.4 million worth of debt. With an aggressive fund-raising campaign and the donation of the building, the company’s finances have been stabilized and the deficit has been wiped out, says FGO executive director Susan Danis. She said that will allow the company to look to the future and plan ahead rather than have to work day to day just to meet a payroll and get productions on stage.

Danis, the company’s CEO since 2012, said that, while the number of mainstage productions will not expand in the immediate future, there will be more “magnificent productions” and there will be continued improvement in the quality of singers, including the engagement of more well-known artists as well as promising younger talent.

“We can now plan our productions and casting three years ahead, like most major American companies,” Danis said. She also plans more “cutting-edge, smaller works in alternative venues” to help expand the company’s reach.

FGO’s “Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places” series, which was discontinued due to the financial crisis, will return next season if not sooner, says Danis.

That program brought two outstanding and innovative offerings to unusual venues. A double bill of Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Tango and Astor Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires was presented at a bar and rock music venue in Miami’s Design District while Andy Vores’ No Exit occupied a South Beach club. Both productions maintained the highest standards of staging and musical performance.

Danis is highly enthusiastic about FGO’s outreach efforts. “We are doing amazing things in the community,” she enthused as she described the educational programs that bring 2,000 students annually to the opera’s rehearsals and performances and the largest teen opera program among American companies. That encompasses three individuals groups in Miami, Homestead and Broward County. The participating students, many of whom are future opera professionals, do volunteer work for the organization including preparing welcome packages for the casts of the four major productions.

She anticipates a renovation of the company’s headquarters as well, which includes rehearsal halls, a costume shop and warehouse as well as administrative offices.. Eventually there may be a black box theater added to the facility on NW 25th Street in Doral.

After years of bleak economic realities, the future for FGO is looking up.

Florida Grand Opera opens the 2016-2017 season with Bizet’s Carmen November 12 at the Arsht Center in Miami.  fgo.org; 800-741-1010.

Posted in News

Leave a Comment

Wed Oct 19, 2016
at 2:55 pm
No Comments