Tag Archives: Donor Spotlight

WHY I GIVE: CONSTANCE CHESNUT

Patricia Bardon as the title character in Carmen (2013); Photo: Robert Millard

Patricia Bardon as the title character in Carmen (2013); Photo: Robert Millard

Constance Chesnut grew up in the performing arts. Both of her parents were classical musicians. Her mother occasionally performed in her hometown opera’s orchestra and was its first female French horn player. “That was a time when women weren’t encouraged to work,” she said.

Ms. Chesnut’s exposure to opera at a young age cultivated a love for the art form that carried over into adulthood. She and her husband, Sheldon Benjamin, have been enjoying performances at LA Opera for many years, and one of her favorite operas inspired her to become a donor and provide financial support above and beyond the cost of her tickets.

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Why I Give: Richard Cook

Richard Cook

Richard Cook

Richard Cook moved to Southern California from the East Coast in 2003, and began attending LA Opera soon after. “It was the first time I could attend opera without significant travel time. I became a donor very quickly.”

After retiring from a successful career in manufacturing operations and management, Mr. Cook pursued his passions for environmental protection, archeology, and opera. Hailing from a musical family, he had first asked his mother to take him to the opera at 9 years old. “She was delighted,” he recalls. “I turn 87 this year, so that’s a long time seeing opera.”

During the course of his nearly 80 years of opera fandom, Mr. Cook has attended opera productions throughout the US and Europe. He even attended an opera performed at the foot of the Great Pyramids. However, he claims that some of the most memorable operas he has ever experienced have been at LA Opera.

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Why I Give: Rosanne Karlebach

Rosanne Karlebach has always loved opera and has donated to LA Opera for many years. She grew up in a very operatic household, as generations of her family members had experienced the joys of the art form. Ms. Karlebach even jokes that her mother used to take her to the opera instead of hiring a babysitter.

 John Treleaven as the title character in Siegfried (2009); Photo: Monika Rittershaus.

John Treleaven as the title character in Siegfried (2009); Photo: Monika Rittershaus.

Ms. Karlebach described her mother as an enthusiastic fan of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, who would often travel across the country to attend productions. Now, as an adult, Ms. Karlebach often brings friends to the opera, sometimes introducing them to classics like Carmen, or at most, three hours of the Ring Cycle. “I took a friend to one night of the LA Opera Ring Cycle, and she was fascinated, it was absolutely gorgeous.”

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