Tag Archives: Recovered Voices

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: Donald Bentley

The Broken Jug (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

The Broken Jug (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Despite never having attended a live opera production, Donald Bentley purchased an LA Opera subscription for his wife Penny as an anniversary present in the late 1980s. In 1989, the Bentleys attended an LA Opera performance of Tosca. At this particular performance, the lead tenor was unable to perform, and Plácido Domingo stepped from the conductor’s podium onto the stage to sing the role of Cavaradossi.

“Plácido’s performance really hooked us, and we’ve been subscribers ever since,” explained Mr. Bentley. The Bentleys also support LA Opera by making tax-deductible charitable donations.

“It’s important for the city of Los Angeles to have a world class performing arts organization like LA Opera,” said Mr. Bentley.  “We tend to support organizations that have a good record.”

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Iconic Productions: Recovered Voices

“History is not only made by ‘its big names,’ its warrior kings, dictators and most famous artists, but by the collective action of all those artists who lived in a given era.” – James Conlon

<em>The Broken Jug</em> (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

The Broken Jug (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

In 2006, LA Opera inaugurated a series entitled “Recovered Voices,” dedicated to showcasing works by composers whose voices were silenced by the rise of the Nazi regime. Maestro James Conlon spearheaded the effort to stage these works (with generous support from philanthropist Marilyn Ziering, who serves as one of five vice-chairmen on the LA Opera board) including Viktor Ullmann’s The Broken Jug and Alexander Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf.

In Maestro Conlon’s words:

“The music of Alexander Zemlinsky and Viktor Ullmann remained buried for decades in the wake of the destruction caused by the totalitarian Nazi regime. Dozens of composers and thousands of compositions are still largely unknown to lovers of classical music and opera. One of the glories of western civilization, the German classical music tradition, experienced the most terrible upheaval in its history by the genocide of the Nazi regime. In an ironic paradox of history, by proclaiming themselves as a master race and attempting to impose this on the rest of the world, they marched to folly and dealt the most self-destructive blow possible to their own proud culture. In trying to ‘purify’ their society, they tore at its heart and soul. They murdered some of their greatest talent, forced others to flee, and scorched the earth of the precious milieu that had nurtured this great culture.

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