Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sponsors Get Sneak Peek for 'Faust'

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.

Well, it wasn't exactly God calling out "Good ... Good ... Good ..." from the stage of the Valentine Theatre on Wednesday night. It was a member of the crew -- although the long white beard he was sporting certainly evoked some classic divine images.

The themes of 'Faust" will be
illuminated during the opera.
The Toledo Opera was preparing for its production of Charles Gounod's "Faust," and a modernly staged one at that. The crew were testing each individual stage light, some of which illuminate boldly printed words like "power," "love," "wrath" and even "good" on a huge backdrop screen that will indicate to the audience the scenes' themes and the struggles in which the characters find themselves.

Conductor James Meena explained these struggles to a select number of guests gathered for a wine reception prior to Wednesday's dress rehearsal and student night performance. Modern stage settings like bar patrons break dancing and taking selfies with their cell phones speak to how lasting and relevant the story is.

"We're still wrestling with these themes today," Meena said, summarizing the tale of a wealthy man nearing the end of his life who makes a deal with the devil to find the one thing he never had: true love.

Goethe penned the play "Faust" in the early 1800s, though the story itself about a celebrated and controversial Dr. Faustus is much older. Director Bernard Uzan shared how the Toledo Opera updated the story in Sally Vallongo's preview article for The Blade. Executive director Suzanne Rorick and assistant director Robert Mirakin described how the Valentine is such a wonderful venue for this particular production for Joseph Schafer's article in The City Paper.

Production coordinator Jim Norman led reception guests Wednesday night on a tour of the stage, set with Faust's loft apartment and a projected disco ball. Later, they heard star Jamie Offenbach as Mephistopheles trying to corrupt the virtue of Marguerite (Janinah Burnett) and foil the efforts of Faust (Shawn Mathey). Offenbach's seductively rich voice could make anyone do anything.

Guests included Elaine and Brad Lewandowski representing the LaValley Family Foundation, a major sponsor of the "Faust" production. Brad Lewandowski was especially looking forward to this weekend's performances since it would be his first opera experience.

This particular story is a good place for him to start. "Anything dealing with the devil," he joked. His tale of love certainly has more success than Faust and Marguerite. He and wife Elaine, both northwest Ohio natives, will celebrate 30 years of marriage in May.

Also in attendance were Susanne and husband J.B. Rorick; Robert and wife Ashley Mirakin; Toledo Opera Guild executive board member Kim Kearns and husband Doug, an opera trustee and sponsor; guild board member and opera trustee Susan Conda; and opera board executive member Maureen Brown.

Registry Bistro catered the delectables, which included crab and pimento puffed pastry, pickled vegetables, candied pecans, pea-pistachio-basil hummus, and a charcuterie board with jams and bread.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Serenade

The dulcet tones of opera and stage musical songs floated through the Carranor Hunt and Polo Club in Perrysburg today as the Toledo Opera Guild gathered there for its annual spring luncheon.

Students from the Toledo School for the Arts performed for the guild members, demonstrating the promise and passion that inspires us all.

Jasmine Davis sang from "The Messiah" and pieces she learned at our local Opera Camp. Drew Longmore performed "Far from the Home I Love" from "Fiddler on the Roof" and "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from "Jesus Christ Superstar." They were accompanied with piano played by their vocal instructor, Jamie Dauel, and in attendance by the Toledo School for the Arts development agent, Bethany Urbanski.

View a video of Jasmine's lovely performance by clicking here.

There was a flurry of brainstorming around the luncheon tables as co-chairs were tapped for Brunhilde Parties, smaller-scale gatherings hosted by guild members to raise funds. Every little bit helps!

Many thanks to Barbara Baker for organizing such a lovely luncheon. Guests dined on tomato soup, chicken salad croissants and ice cream sundaes over a fudge brownie. A special thank you to Judith Conda for organizing the TSA performances.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Phashionable Photos

Grand Lubell Photography has made available more than 100 beautiful images captured at this year's Phashion of the Opera event.

Guests, models, vendors and the beautifully appointed main dining room at the Toledo Club are among the lovely images.

This direct link will take you directly to the Phashion of the Opera gallery:

The pictures in this blog post were posted on Ragazza's Facebook page. Feel free to share yours on the Toledo Guild's page.

Thank you again for your support. It was a picture perfect event!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bringing Sexy Back

So that happened.

The writer of this blog was so inspired by the dancing antics of a male model during today's Phashion of the Opera show that she came up to the runway and handed him a dollar bill.

The crowd roared -- in an appreciative manner, thank goodness -- and the model didn't miss a beat, kissing the hand of the admirer and then grinding that green into the back pocket of his tuxedo pants.

That this blog writer also won the auction item for a tuxedo rental at President Tuxedo is a totally unrelated matter.

Many, many thanks go out to all of the Toledo Opera Guild committee members who made this fashion event not just possible but also a wonderful success. More than 180 guests, who came out in the rain to the Toledo Club to support this major fundraiser, had opportunity to peruse local vendors, bid on auction items, view fabulous fashions from local shops, and enjoy a wonderful luncheon and each other's company.

Sincere applause is given to all of the models who braved the catwalk -- and a few cat-calls from the audience. Your beauty, self-confidence and commitment to your craft are inspirations to us all.