from the OC Register
The City Council pledged $50,000 Monday night to help bring an Italian Opera Festival – billed as the first such event of its kind in Southern California – to town next summer.
The council unanimously approved the amount for the inaugural festival, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 10-20 at Lantern Bay Park.
The 11-day festival is planned to be an immersion in Italian style with a series of cultural, culinary, and artistic experiences, the city says. Several professional opera performances will be included, each expected to draw up to 1,300 attendees.
City staff says that the festival would extend the peak tourism season, support the local economy, and bolster bed tax and sales tax revenues.
“This high profile event will enhance international awareness of Dana Point as a destination city and attract visitors throughout the year,” a city report says.
The release of the city’s pledged $50,000 would be contingent on success of the Italian American Opera Foundation’s fundraising and other production milestones as determined by the city manager, along with Mayor Lisa Bartlett and Councilman Scott Schoeffel, who will be acting in their capacities as ex-officio members of the Sister City Advisory Committee.
The city’s four major hotels – the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa (owned by Marriott), Doubletree Doheny Beach and the St. Regis Monarch Beach – which form the Dana Point Tourism Business Improvement District, have proposed $200,000 in their 2010 budget to support the festival, the report says.
“The hoteliers view this as a great opportunity to generate a considerable number of hotel room bookings as the event matures,” the report says.
An Italian Village will be set up at the festival to share Italian fashion, art, food and culture.
During this past summer, Dana Point took another step toward making an Italian opera festival in town a reality, when the City Council unanimously approved the formation of a sister-city committee and set up a nonprofit organization to support sister-city activities.
Dana Point and Viterbo, an Italian city of 70,000 residents about 70 miles north of Rome, became sister cities May 31.
Backers believed then that the official handshake would help speed the return of opera to Orange County in 2010 along with cultural tourism. Santa Ana-based Opera Pacific, the county’s only opera company, shut down last November after 22-plus seasons.
The sister-city agreement, believed to be the second for an Orange County city with an Italian counterpart, helped set the stage for the Italian opera festival.
In March, council members directed staff to investigate the cost and feasibility of hosting Orange County’s first opera festival, as well as to look into creating the coastal city’s first sister-city partnership. The city had been approached by the newly created Italian American Opera Foundation as it searched for a festival venue.