The Bilbao Association of Friends of the Opera is a key actor on the Basque and Spanish cultural scene and an outstanding international player, with a programme that vies in quality with those of the world's greatest theatres, and a structured array of well-conceived activities that reflect the institution's high status and the importance of the opera as a driver of the local economy.
ABAO-OLBE always arranges all its activities with excellence in mind, and each year it presents a complete and balanced cultural experience that expresses its commitment to society, with a programme that includes 47 performances attended by over 90,000 spectators.
- Opera season. Five operas with a hand-picked selection of titles, productions and performers. The programme revolves around two favourite operas from the repertoire with high audience appeal, plus three that are not performed as often but are of great lyrical and dramatic intensity, sometimes including a novel choice of a 20th-century opera.
- Opera Berri. Opera Berri brings the opera within everyone's reach with specially-chosen well-loved opera titles, performances at weekends and tickets at 50% of the usual price. We expect to attract 2,100 spectators over the course of this new season.
- Abao Txiki. Five opera titles to enjoy as a family, awakening children's interest in culture through productions that teach essential ethical values using the opera as a vehicle. This initiative is part of ABAO-OLBE's strategy for fulfilling its social and educational mission in respect of the rising generation.
- Tutto Verdi. ABAO-OLBE is making history with this project, through which it gives specific weighting to its artistic and cultural activities. The goal is to perform all Giuseppe Verdi's operas in Bilbao. The artistic programme is complemented by ABAO's Verdi Week, a series of talks in collaboration with the University of Deusto, and by high-profile publications carrying specially-written editorial material about the composer along with multimedia productions.
- Educational programme. This educational and musical project, which has been going for over 20 years, is delivered annually to 180 educational establishments and to 19,000 schoolchildren and adults who participate in the various activities, with the aim of fostering the participant's development as a person and helping the teaching staff by providing content that they cannot source elsewhere; providing an alternative leisure pursuit and a basic education in culture; and strengthening family bonds within a cultural environment.
- Introduction to the Opera series of talks. Talks given in the run-up to the staging of each new title of the Season, by specialist speakers, in order to maximize enjoyment of the production.
- Books, publications and multimedia materials. "Scena" Magazine, Book of the Season, highlights of the operas performed on CD and DVD, Tutto Verdi publications, etc.
ABAO-OLBE isn't just an institution that does fine work in the social and cultural sphere in connection with music and the opera – it also makes a sizeable contribution to the generation of direct income within its range of influence. It generates wealth, stimulates consumption and creates jobs.
- It generates a GDP of around 18 million euros
- It safeguards over 300 jobs – twenty times its own workforce.
- It generates a GDP of 10 euros for each euro of subsidy received.
- Overall tax collection allows for the recovery of 59% of the subsidies received
- Self-financing to a high degree: 55% own income, 13% private sponsorship and 32% subsidies
- Zero debt since the 2006-2007 Season
- Equity 55% of budget.
The Bilbao Association of Friends of the Opera is a non-profit-making private firm with a sustainable and highly efficient management model, providing stability, solvency and commitment, through a plan of work to which contribute a dedicated group of members, patrons and private sponsors who, through their support, ensure the continuity of the Opera Season in Bilbao.