Former San Diego Opera executive received $1 million in settlement funds

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – New tax documents released Friday show the San Diego Opera paid former general director Ian Campbell and his chief fundraiser Ann Spira Campbell more than $1 million in a privately negotiated settlement.

The documents show that Campbell received $276,000 and Spira Campbell walked away with $812,521, which includes $600,000 in executive retirement compensation and $17,000 in accrued vacation pay.

In July of 2014, the San Diego Opera was on the verge of financial collapse as ticket sales and donor contributions dropped.

“We have run out of cash. We had known that our finances are running out for the last five to six years,” Board President Karen Cohn said in a statement in 2014.

Despite its financial troubles, the opera didn’t decrease executive pay.

Campbell, who worked on the opera’s productions for 31 years, and his now ex-wife Ann pulled together an annual pay of $800,000.

He was known for staging expensive and grand productions, so the public was outraged when Campbell made the announcement that the opera would be closing because it was no longer “financially sustainable.”

Details of the settlement were viewed in the opera’s 2014 tax return, filed with the IRS and the state.

In addition to sizable retirement plans, vacation time and monetary compensation, both Campbell and Spira Campbell were given lifetime tickets to the opera as a gift.

Officials said cars used by Campbell and Spira Campbell were returned and later sold.

The opera’s new president, Carol Lazier, was voted into the position last April and said the company is ready to resolve any differences and move forward.

The opera was able to raise more than $2 million through crowd-funding campaigns and the company just completed its 50th anniversary season.

David Bennett is also the new general director.

Numbers released in November show that the opera is no longer in financial trouble.

“All such matters related to these settlements were resolved through mediation in June of 2014. A friend of the Opera, who has chosen to remain anonymous, donated the funds with the specific instruction that they be used to resolve all issues with the transition in leadership so that no other donors’ funds would be used for this purpose,” according to a statement released by the opera.

California’s attorney general will continue to look through the company finances and the compensation history of both Campbell and Spira Campbell.

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