Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Dear Opera Lover: Letter from Ann Sanford

Ann Sanford is a longtime lover of opera and a faithful steward of its financial success here in northwest Ohio, having served on Toledo Opera's board of directors and endowment committee. An investment professional, Sanford is a first vice president at Morgan Stanley after more than 30 years with Merrill Lynch. She writes an open letter to those who have attended a Toledo Opera production, at the request of Suzanne Rorick, executive director:

Dear Opera Lover,

Suzanne asked me if I would write you a letter about my love of opera and I'm happy to oblige!

Ann Sanford (left) and Suzanne Rorick at the Toledo Opera
Guild's Diamonds & Denim fundraiser at Toledo Club in 2014.
I have loved opera since I was a starving student on my junior year abroad in Paris. I really had zero money to do anything other than eat a yogurt at lunch and take my meals with the family who was paid to house and feed me. (Sounds rough, right? I was in Paris, after all!)

But the opera, as most cultural institutions in Paris offered, had student tickets for next to nothing, and so we all stood in the back of the theater during performances and hoped we could nab a seat if someone left early. I think I saw every opera that Garnier did that year (this was 1973-'74, way before the Bastille opened). I will never forget seeing Tosca throw herself from the Castel Sant'Angelo for the first time. It seemed like it was 100 feet in the air and I was sure the singer had died!

I sang in the opera chorus when Jim Meena came to Toledo to conduct, I've chaired the Sapphire Ball with some other corporate buddies, and then became a board member for years and years. I'm happy now to be "retired" from the board and endowment committee, but I know how important it is for all of us to continue to financially support the operations of our great company. We need to be able to pay our guest artists a reasonable fee so that they continue to rave about Toledo when they go elsewhere, and we need to pay our Toledo Symphony to ensure the presence of the high-quality orchestra that we love.

I don't think most of us realize what a feather in Toledo's cap the Opera represents. With its presence we can draw new corporate talent to the community, which in turn helps support the arts we are so fortunate to have here.

I write to thank you for buying tickets, but also to ask that you consider a year-end donation to help Toledo Opera operate and prosper. Maybe it is your first gift this calendar year or your second, but please complete the giving envelope included with this letter and mail it back [or donate online at] to this deserving little opera company, which is now 60 years old.

I am so proud of our Opera! For surviving the financial crisis of 2007-'08 intact, for daring to mount an endowment campaign with an eye to the future, but especially for th ehuge task the team undertook last season to premiere "I Dream" to the world. It truly brought the people of Toledo together in appreciation for Martin Luther King Jr. and for the history of his nonviolence movement. In times like these that should not be underestimated.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this, and I hope to see you soon at the Toledo Opera! (Don't you feel good just saying that!?)

Warm regards,

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Opera executive director applauds TOG support

Dear fellow Opera Guild members,

How wonderful to see so many of you at Wildwood in September! Thanks to Cindy Niggemyer and Laura Draheim for organizing a great season kick-off. I also must add that the MAGIC FLUTE luncheon was another triumph; thanks goes to guild members and luncheon chairs Megan Kabour and June Galvin.

Flute and bell centerpieces at TOG's MAGIC
FLUTE luncheon at Registry Bistro.
Please know that these gatherings are essential to helping promote Toledo Opera and are enormously appreciated by the staff, the Opera Board of Directors, and myself. Thank you all!

In 2019 we celebrate Toledo Opera's 60th anniversary. The Toledo Opera Guild was instrumental in the creation of Toledo Opera 60 years ago and has been present in absolutely every chapter of the opera company's 60-year-history. I am certain that having the Opera Guild alongside us has been critical to the remarkable resilience and stability of Toledo Opera.

As we continue marching through the fall and our 60th season, let us gain new energy and a renewed commitment to all things wonderful in Toledo. Live, professional opera being one of those things!

Much thanks to you all,
Suzanne Rorick,
Toledo Opera Executive Director

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

TOG president shares love for opera, community

Hello Friends, Members and Opera Lovers,

The Toledo Opera Guild has begun another amazing season of fun, friendship, and financial support. We've kicked up our heels at a Brunhilde barbecue and enjoyed a lovely bistro luncheon, and we have many more events ahead.

We gather always in the spirit of the guild's mission: to financially support the Toledo Opera company and to spread awareness of and appreciation for this amazing art form right here in northwest Ohio. We also form connections with local community members and area businesses, whose volunteering and donations help make it all possible. Being a member of TOG is not just about being part of the opera but also of a whole community working hard to enhance life here in the Toledo area. Please join us!

We also cordially invite you to attend the simply divine slate of performances the Toledo Opera has scheduled for its 60th anniversary season: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE on Oct. 5 and 7, George Bizet's CARMEN on Feb. 8 and 10, and Douglas Moore's THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE on April 12 and 14, all staged at the beautiful Valentine Theatre. There also will be special opera offerings at the 60th Anniversary Opera Gala: Six Decades of Sparkling Performances in Toledo, set for Nov. 3 at Inverness Club.

The opera also has education outreach programs for our local school districts, a resident artist program, and pre-opera discussions that are presented to the public at no charge. When you attend a Toledo Opera Guild event, you are supporting these efforts as well as the stage productions. And TOG has so many fun ways for you to do that! We routinely sell out seats for our Celebrity Wait Night -- spookily themed Eat, Drink & Be Scary this fall -- and our fabulous Phashion of the Opera fashion show in the spring. Everything from ghouls to glamour is a hot ticket for this group!

I would be so happy to meet you and spend more time with you at these events, sharing my love for Toledo Opera and admiration for the guild members who have so faithfully supported our mission for so many years. We know in our hearts that with your support, Toledo Opera will be celebrating another 60 years and countless more in the future.

Kelly Kotchetov
President of Toledo Opera Guild

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebrity Wait Night: Ghouls, Glamour and Glitz!

The Toledo Opera Guild is moving its annual Celebrity Wait Night to the fall this year and reveling in the seasonal spirit in Hollywood Halloween style! The fundraising event will be held on Oct. 23 at LaScola Italian Grill and it promises to be as fabulous an evening as ever before!

Guests are encouraged to glam it up in fabulous costume, as well as to be extra generous when "tipping" your table waiter. All proceeds directly benefit the amazing Toledo Opera. We will again welcome 13abc Chief Meteorologist Jay Berschback as a special guest waiter, and you may choose from among these wonderful TOG supporters and waiters:

Gabe Barrow; Barbara Brown; Cathy & Keven Fifer; Tim Hanson; Ed Hoffman; Bonnie Wrobel and Shelli & Mark Jacobs; Elaina Kfouf and Kelly Kotchetov; Suzanne Rorick and Maureen Brown; Diane Rusk and John Donofrio;Traci Scwann and Megan Kabour and Lexi Schwann.

Tickets are $45 per person; RSVP by Oct. 16. The Bob Rex Trio will offer live music as cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The restaurant is located at 5375 Airport Highway, Toledo. Contact event chair Barbara Brown at 419-475-9534 to register or for more information.

MENU: Guests will dine on Salad Di Casa (house salad), mixed greens with grape tomatoes and gorgonzola tossed in white balsamic vinaigrette; choice of entree; and caramel pecan tiramisu, lady finger cookies layered with sweet mascarpone, caramel, pecans and whipped cream. Entree choices include New York strip steak: a choice center-cut steak with porcini mushroom butter sauce, vegetables and potato lasagna; Lake Superior whitefish: a fillet sautéed in a pecan-polenta crust with porcini butter sauce and vegetables; cheese manicotti: rolled pasta filled with herbed ricotta topped with marinara, alfredo and pesto sauces; and chicken Marsala: chicken sautéed and flamed with Marsala wine, wild mushrooms and shallots.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Toledo Opera Guild 2016-17 Season Full of Fun

The Toledo Opera Guild is beginning its latest season of amazing events with a brand new one!

Cocktails in the Red Room on Sept. 19 is the first of new Meet & Greet gatherings planned for evening times throughout 2016 and 2017. 

Pre-opera luncheons throughout the year serve as general membership meetings and are a valuable social opportunity for the guild and its guests. Yet not everyone is available during the day, with busy work schedules and other responsibilities, so the need arose for additional opportunities for "fun"-raising and introducing prospective members to the guild.

Bonnie Wrobel and Denise Matheny have planned an excellent event to kick off the Meet & Greet series. Guests will gather in the Toledo Club's sumptuous Red Room from 6-9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, for ample hors d'oeuvres and a complimentary cocktail. A cash bar will be available as well, and there will be a raffle. Tickets are $29 per person; click here for RSVP details. 

Guild members are encouraged to attend both luncheons and evening Meet & Greets, and guests are warmly welcomed at both!

Luncheons have been scheduled for Sept. 28, Feb. 8, March 29 and May 31. The first is our "Barber of Seville" luncheon, beginning with social hour at 11 a.m. followed by lunch at noon Sept. 28 at Inverness Club, 4201 Dorr St. Please RSVP with $25 payment to Diane Rusk as soon as possible.

Beth Bowman is busy planning Brunhilde Parties, creatively themed gatherings underwritten by guild members. Click here for more information and keep checking for future dates.

For its major fall fundraiser, Toledo Opera Guild will transport you back in time to 1942 and sail you to French Morocco for its Casablanca event. Local band Raq the Casbah will provide the perfect music, and guests will make sure to have their "transport papers" at the ready!

Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased online at for the event on Nov. 11 at Toledo Club. Two silent auctions will present fine wines and a selection of wonderful donated items and gift certificates, and the live auction has a very special treat: an all-expense-paid trip to New York City with Ragazza boutique. The winner bidder will receive two airfares, a hotel room, all meals, and an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry during an early January trip. How exciting!

A December Delights potluck gathering will be held at noon Dec. 7 at the home of guild member Jane Wurth. We return to La Scola Italian Grill on Jan. 23 for Celebrity Wait Night and to Toledo Club on May 3 for Phashion of the Opera. All will prove to be as fabulous as always. 

The Toledo Opera Guild presents all of these events as a way to further our mission of raising awareness and inspiring passion for opera in northwest Ohio, and to financially support the amazing Toledo Opera. Its upcoming season is an extraordinary examination of love, marriage, and heartbreak:

Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," Oct. 7 and 9
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," Feb. 10 and 12
Samuel Barber's "Vanessa," March 31 and April 2

Visit to learn more about these productions and to purchase tickets. You don't want to miss any of these incredible operas.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fierce Phashion: 'Project Runway Jr' Winner among Special Guests at Runway Event

This is what you will be doing April 27 after you purchase a ticket online for the Toledo Opera Guild's 2016 Phashion of the Opera runway show and luncheon, which directly benefits the Toledo Opera:

You will come to the historic Toledo Club in downtown Toledo at 10:30 a.m., perhaps even a fashionably late 10:45 a.m. You will check in with some of the most dedicated guild volunteers, and perhaps receive a special pass for prime runway seating if you were lucky enough to nab a diva/divo ticket before they sold out.

You will wander through the impressive lobby to the luscious Red Room, to nibble on some complimentary hors d'oeuvres, sip a mimosa (or two) from the cash bar, and shop to your heart's content among our fabulous vendors: A Studio, Aegean Connection, Bowinkles, Lulu Ave Jewelry, Mary Kay, Paper Garden, Purse Love, Sewing Matrix, Origami Owl, and Rodan + Fields.

Kayla Brown walks the runway during the
2015 Phashion of the Opera rehearsal.
At noon, you and your packages will settle into a seat in the club's Centennial Room. Divas and divos will have reserved seats at the runway, but every chair in the room will offer a stunning view to the professionally staged fashion show organized by Katie Maskey of Studio K Coaching and a former Mrs. Ohio pageant winner.

Emmy-award winning anchor Emilie Voss from WTOL will emcee the show, and a very special guest will be Maya Ramirez, the Toledo School for the Arts student who won the fashion design competition on the television show "Project Runway Jr."

The music will start, the lights will dazzle, and beautiful models will rock fashions from some of northwest Ohio's finest local boutiques and clothiers: Vivian Kate, Ragazza, Blue by Atlas Bridal Shop, Elegant Rags, Sophia Lustig, Sophie's Sister, Costume Holiday House, Josie Wills, and Toledo Harley-Davidson.

Some of the models you will recognize as members of our opera-loving community. These VIPs -- Very Important Patrons -- have made special donations or have been sponsored by others who are making this event a marvelous fundraising success. Watch for Gabe Barrow of Barrow's Jewelers; Laura Dosch, of Waterford Bank, supported by Ragazza; Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, who just may cartwheel again for guild president Shelli Jacobs; Karen Kristof, wife of Dr. Kraig Kristof of Glass City Orthopaedic & Spine Center; James Schwann, son of past guild president Traci Schwann and Dr. Thomas Schwann, chief of staff at the University of Toledo Medical Center; beloved family members of Marianne Ballas, owner of Ballas Buick-GMC; Elizabeth Aouad, wife of Adeeb Aouad, owner of Airtech Mechanical Inc.; Roger Parker of the Toledo Club; a model yet to be announced, sponsored by Vivian Kate; and Kristi Leigh, of WNWO, bedecked by Jeffrey Mann of Jeffrey Mann Fine Jewelers.

Have some extra cash on hand, or in your fabulous handbag at least, so that you can cast a paid vote for your favorite VIP model! Ballots will be counted immediately, and 100 % of the proceeds will go directly to supporting Toledo Opera productions such as Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette."

Arrangement by My Origami Garden.
You also will be serenaded by a voice you won't believe is just 13 years old with selections from "Phantom of the Opera." May Coppler won Talent of the Year in the International America's Amateur Modeling & Talent Competition in 2014-1015. She has performed at Toledo Walleye hockey games, the Ohio Statehouse and many charity events in Ohio and surrounding states.

Following the fashion show, you will head upstairs (elevators available) to the Toledo Club's largest private dining room, the stately Belvedere. Tables will be bedecked with paper flower arrangements created by Erica Francis of My Origami Garden, which will be available for sale to benefit Toledo Opera as well. You will dine on Caesar salad, garlic bread, ziti with artichoke hearts and peppers, and chocolate gelato and cookies. You will be so happy.

You will have helped make Phashion of the Opera one of the best fashion shows and most gratifying fundraisers in the whole area. The Toledo Opera will be able to present an amazing 2016-2017 season, and we all will benefit from that.

The 2016 Phashion of the Opera planning committee, chaired by Becky Gannon, will be exceedingly grateful for your support: co-chair Katie Maskey, Patty Etue Stephens, Elaina Kfouf, Bonnie Wrobel, and Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer. A hospitality committee gathered by Barbara Brown will do everything possible to make the day a pleasant one for you.

To purchase a ticket, visit or look for an invitation in the guild's Hi Notes newsletter. But hurry! Tickets, which cost $50 for general admission and include lunch, are going very fast.

For more information on Phashion of the Opera and other guild events, and most importantly on how to become a Toledo Opera Guild member and be involved in such amazing work, visit

Saturday, March 12, 2016

'Romeo et Juliette' Luncheon to Include Art Museum Tour

This portrait, 'Elizabeth I, Queen of England'
(circa 1588) hangs in the Toledo Museum of Art.
Would you like a side of art with your lunch? The Toledo Opera Guild says, "Yes, please!"

The guild will enjoy a pre-opera luncheon March 30 at the renowned Toledo Museum of Art in anticipation of Toledo Opera's production of Charles Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette."

Docents will lead guild members and guests on a tour of the museum's collection of artwork, featuring pieces from the time period of Shakespeare's tragic love story and other depictions of romance.

Attendees are invited to gather for social hour at 11 a.m. in the museum's Green Room, where lunch will be served at noon followed by a program on the opera and art at 1 p.m.

Cost is $35. Guild members have been mailed invitations and guests are welcome; RSVP as soon as possible. Parking fees at the museum have been waived for luncheon attendees, who should enter the museum through the Grove Street doors.

If you have any questions or need transportation arranged, please contact luncheon organizer Diane Rusk at 419-283-0829.