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 toledoopera.org] 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,
Ann

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