My day job is bankruptcy paralegal. Let me say upfront that I don't give legal advice but I can point you in the right direction. I've been working for bankruptcy lawyers since 1993 (oy), particularly in large chapter 11 corporate cases. I've seen debtors come and go. It happens. Chapter 11 of the United States Code was created by Congress to give people and/or businesses a chance to straighten out their debts, i.e. staying the old debt, getting new loans, getting rid of dead contracts, assuming good contracts, selling stuff or not, reorganizing with a plan to pay back creditors, etc. However, in December, when OperaChic reported that the Baltimore Opera filed bankruptcy, it felt close to home. Its no secret that I love the arts and entertainment, so this hurt.
I've never been to the Baltimore Opera, although many of my friends have. Also, it affects singers and all of the people who work to get the singing done in front of the stage and backstage. Now, the Baltimore Opera is STILL in business. Chapter 11 doesn't halt business, it just stops things until the company can reorganize. The Baltimore Opera does plan to return to producing live opera. In the meantime, they have cancelled their productions of The Barber of Seville and Porgy and Bess scheduled for March and May, 2009.
On December 23rd, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Centerstage and the Hippodrome came to the rescue of patrons of these productions, at least, when they announced that they would offer a gift of free tickets by sending out vouchers to Baltimore Opera subscribers and ticket holders. That totally rocks and is so rare.
I've been watching this drama unfold via PACER. Bankruptcy filings are public documents. Among the papers that a debtor is required to file are the Schedules. This is a list of all of their assets and liabilities. Regarding the Baltimore Opera, I was particularly interested in seeing who their creditors are. No surprises really - a secured loan for land and property, state taxes, a union or two, various administrative items like health insurance, pension, newspapers, phone service, etc.
The other critical part of the Schedules is the listing of executory contracts and unexpired leases. You guessed it - these executory contracts are the singer contracts, among others. In addition to contracts for The Barber of Seville and Porgy and Bess, Baltimore Opera also held contracts for Cyrano, Rigoletto and The Magic Flute. Perhaps, Baltimore Opera will get its act together in time to stage these three after May. If not, it owes as much as $40,000 to Elizabeth Futral for the role of Gilda in Rigoletto, not to mention $100,000s of more to lesser known (to me, at least) singers plus the conductors, orchestra, and chorus members.
I'll be watching for Baltimore Opera's Plan of Reorganization to see what they are planning to do next. In the meantime, if you are owed money for debt owed to you by the Baltimore Opera prior to their filing on December 4, 2008, you can file a Proof of Claim with the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division. The case number is 08−26265. The due date for filing a claim, a/k/a the Bar Date, is April 7, 2009.