SARASOTA- Sarasota Opera reached the final phase of its $40 Million Dollar fundraising campaign, and to close out the last $5 million dollars needed, the opera is taking in a piece of opera history and developing a new way to boost revenue.

When the owner of Toronto’s historic Malabar Costume House told Sarasota Opera he was planning to retire, Sarasota Opera decided to save the rental collection from becoming Halloween costumes.

“He knew that we were the kind of opera,” Russell said. “That could protect his collection, his legacy in costumes.”

Sarasota Opera is acquiring the collection of over 30 thousand costumes for 135 separate productions for about $2 million dollars. The action prevents the Opera’s costume budget from skyrocketing.

“We probably would not have been able to build the number of costumes that we needed for large productions and supplement from rental companies,” Howard Kaplan said. “We would have had to make really strong budget choices as to what we would do.”

The collection contains historic costumes worn by Beverly Sills, Marilyn Horne and Luciano Pavarotti.

“Mr. Pavorotti wore this,” Kaplan said. “The thing about Malabar is every tag has the original name of the original person that wore it.”

The Acquisition offers the opera a new revenue stream with the ability to rent out the costumes.

“Universally all of the US Opera companies,” Russell said. “Including some companies that no longer rent from Malabar said this is great, we’re going to have them closer to us, it’s greater for us.”

And the investment is already paying off.

“We actually even sent out our first rental,” Kaplan said. “Our first la Boehme, it came down here in boxes, and we took them out of the boxes, looked at them, sized them up, and they’re on their way to Calgary.”

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