Tag Archives: Why I Give
For Alma Guzman, Los Angeles would be a difficult city to live in were it not for LA Opera. She expresses, “It does something to you…it’s very healing…it just enriches my life.”Alma has loved opera from the time she was a child living in Vienna, where she was able to stand in the back of the theater for performances at the Staatsoper for five cents apiece. Her parents encouraged her passion for opera, her father himself having participated in a “Claque,” where he was granted free admission to operas so long as he applauded especially loudly for particular singers only.
Continuing their family tradition of encouraging support for LA Opera during the holidays, Paul and Marybelle Musco have announced a matching gift challenge. Any donation received by December 31 will be matched $2 for every $1 donated up to $500,000.
For Paul and Marybelle Musco, supporting opera is an integral part of their lives. As a boy growing up in Rhode Island, Paul’s Italian immigrant parents were opera lovers and insisted that their children gather around the radio for the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. “I guess it was osmosis, because I came to love opera and it has stayed with me personally ever since,” he recalls.
Tax accountant Brian Wong first discovered opera back in 2008, while he was looking for a way to relieve the stresses of work and life. A Los Angeles native, Brian recalled an elementary school trip to see Hansel and Gretel at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
An interest in opera stayed with him, and he began noticing familiar arias in movies and on television. “To me, the most famous aria was ‘O mio babbino caro,’ which I discovered to be from Puccini’s Il Trittico, an opera I’d never heard of and knew absolutely nothing about,” said Mr. Wong.
Ruby Hanan has worked part-time as a Telefund caller for LA Opera for the past 12 years. For 10 of those years she has also been a donor to the organization.
What inspires Ruby to not only give her time but also contribute to LA Opera?
Tara Colburn, born Tarasenka Pankiv in Zagreb, Croatia, grew up surrounded by music and the arts. She studied piano with her concert pianist mother and her grandfather was director of the Zagreb Conservatory. A lifelong supporter of the arts, Ms. Colburn served as an active board member of LA Opera since the company’s founding year in 1986. She was one of the company’s most dedicated supporters for nearly two decades before her death in 2003. She established the Tarasenka Pankiv Fund through a bequest (a directive in her will) that continues to support LA Opera productions, including the upcoming presentation of Tosca.
Steve McGinty is a computer software engineer, who spends his days providing technical support to commercial users of mainframe products. Outside of work, Mr. McGinty has a passion for opera, which has long been an important part of his life.
“Once a person has been exposed to opera, it can have a tremendous impact on their life,” says Mr. McGinty.
Mr. McGinty has been a season subscriber at LA Opera for many years and generously supports the company through annual contributions.
Stuart and Rebecca Bowne have subscribed to LA Opera since 1995. “While we both absolutely love opera, our experience and relationships with this particular company have enriched our lives in ways we could not have imagined,” said Mrs. Bowne.
“We travel around the world to see opera – but it is here, in our home town, that we experience the most meaningful moments and heartfelt connections.”
The following is a personal story from Clemence Yi, an 8th grade student, who has participated in LA Opera’s education programs. As a non-profit organization, LA Opera relies on donations from individuals like you to fund programs that introduce students like Clemence to opera and ensure the art form thrives for generations to come.
Help make programs like these possible. Visit LAOpera.org/Donate
Share Next Tuesday marks the fifth annual Giving Tuesday, a nationwide day of giving back, following the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping holidays. As a non-profit organization, LA Opera relies on donations from individuals like you to produce world-class … Continue reading
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.
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.
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.”
Summer Walters wears a special outfit each time she attends an LA Opera production and shares pictures on Facebook. “My friends see the excitement that envelops me in each photo, so I have introduced quite a few friends to the world [of opera] that I hold so dear,” explains Ms. Walters. “Each time I attend with someone who has never experienced opera, it’s like watching the performance through the wide-eyed wonder of a child. It makes my heart so happy.”
Murray Aronson has been donating to LA Opera since the 1990s. In fact, one of his favorite LA Opera memories is seeing Plácido Domingo in Stiffelio in 1996. His life-long love for opera began long before that, in his New Jersey high school’s auditorium at an educational production of Così fan tutte. Although the singers were only accompanied by a pianist, Mr. Aronson was mesmerized. “I remember the colored lights on the stage with Mozart’s eternally beautiful music,” he recalled. “This gave me a vision of a world that can be wonderful. I was 14 years old, and that did it for me.”
Mr. Aronson has now seen close to 400 opera performances over the course of his lifetime. However, there are still a few operas he hasn’t seen performed live, like Phillip Glass’ Akhnaten, which will be performed in LA Opera’s 2016/17 season. “When the LA Opera puts on a new work, or one that is relatively rare like Norma, that gets me hook, line and sinker.”
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.
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.”