Seattle Opera to Lay Off Two Dozen Administrative Staffers

By David Salazar

The Seattle Opera will be laying off 24 people who are currently on furlough, due to challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic.

In a letter on the company’s official website, general director Christina Scheppelmann noted that the company had been hopeful of returning to live performances in early 2021, but realized that it would be unable to host a live performance until the 2021-22 season. As such, it was unable to rehire many of the staff members who were on furlough for over a year. The result was that the 24 people remaining on furlough (out of 46 originally placed in this position back in June, per the Seattle Times), will be laid off. The company had already “eliminated several positions” back in September.

“This is a very hard and emotional decision for Seattle Opera. The global pandemic continues to be the biggest challenge the performing arts sector has ever seen, and what we are discussing today would have been unimaginable when shutdowns began last March,” Scheppelmann wrote.

She also noted that the company would be reorganizing its Costume Shop and Hair and Makeup Studio into one department.

Scheppelmann did mention some positive news in her letter, including a high number of applicants for the Seattle Arts Fellowship which is designed for BIPOC professionals who want to become leaders in arts organizations. She also mentioned that the first year of the Jane Lang Davis Creation Lab was officially underway with performances planned for May 22, June 12, and 25.

Finally, she mentioned that the premiere for its recorded “Don Giovanni” showcase would be shifted to March 5, 2021.