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Opera Brings Curtain Down

Hartford Courant

February 07, 2009

This is sad. Connecticut Opera, which dates to the early 1940s and is the sixth-oldest continuously performing opera company in the country, has had to cancel the last two productions of the season, "Daughter of the Regiment" in March and "La Boheme" in May.

There is no mystery to what happened: Donations and ticket sales fell to the point where they could not support the company. The opera's trustees are scrambling to find support, but without the arrival of an angel, perhaps an archangel, it will be very difficult for the show to go on next season.

The loss of the opera, whether for the rest of this season or longer, is a blow to music lovers, and to a city whose identity is closely related to the arts. Make no mistake, this is not an isolated happenstance. Most arts and cultural organizations in the area are struggling in this economic downturn; a few are not far behind the opera.

Some have criticized President Obama for putting arts funding in the economic stimulus package. But he was right to do so, and we hope the funding will remain. The arts are vital to the future of metropolitan regions because they add greatly to quality of life, attract "creative class" workers, and are an asset for local schools and colleges. Gov. M. Jodi Rell wants the state to be ready when the economy rebounds; the arts should be part of that effort.

City and state officials, foundations and university leaders should work together to save the opera and the other arts organizations, to the extent possible. Hartford has had one of the finest arts communities for a city its size in the country, and this has always been a strong selling point. Lose it, and we lose something important.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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