Following the April 28 death of Alamo City Opera founder and director Mark Richter, the company has canceled its final performances of the 2018-2019 season. The company was to perform Soldier Songs at the Buena Vista Theater June 1-2.
Although no formal public announcement was made, board members decided on the cancellation during Richter’s weeklong April hospitalization, “when I realized if he did survive he was not going to be capable of directing the opera” due to his compromised health, said Carol Karotkin, board president.
After Richter and Music Director Kristin Roach had decided on producing Soldier Songs prior to last season, Karotkin said, “he developed a team, lead the team, he had his fingerprints on everything. So I realized it was an impossibility” to continue with the production. The board agreed unanimously, she said.
“It was a necessity, not a choice,” Karotkin said. “Every single production that we had was really generated by his creative energy, and his intelligence about opera.”
As of Thursday, the company’s website still listed the Soldier Songs performances, and 2019-2020 season information also remains posted.
Board members will meet next week to discuss immediate concerns of potential refunds for advance ticket holders and the situations of contracted and non-contracted performers, she said. The future of the company will also be discussed. Alamo City Opera had already announced its 2019-2020 season, featuring Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena, Frida, and The Threepenny Opera.
“This will be a complete decision by the board, what they want to do in the future,” with all options on the table, Karotkin said. “When you have a death of someone who is the apex of the organization, the person who is the controlling factor of your production,” it must weigh on the decision.
Roach said her contract extended only through the 2018-19 season, and she is uncertain of her own future with the company. “This is Mark’s legacy,” she said. “I think we all hope that it will continue, and that his vision for bringing this type of performing to South Texas will continue.”
Adam Deigel, former Opera San Antonio artistic director, said Richter “showed me a tremendous amount of graciousness and collegiality,” even though the two directed ostensibly competing companies.
“I know that he loved the art form, and thought that San Antonio was a city worthy of the highest level of artistry and commitment,” Deigel said, saying he hopes Alamo City Opera can continue in some form.