Florentine Opera Company
Press Release

The Florentine Opera Reflects on the Challenges and Triumphs of its 84th Season at the 2018 Annual Meeting

And Presents Donald & Donna Baumgartner with Igniter Award

By - Sep 6th, 2018 03:48 pm

MILWAUKEE, Wis.—September 6, 2018— On the evening of September 5, 2018, the Florentine Opera held its 2017-2018 Annual Meeting. It was hosted by Florentine Board President Kathleen Wilson and Interim Managing Director Eric Lind, who reflected on the challenges presented in the 2017-18 season and discussed how the organization is setting the stage for continued success.

Board President Kathleen Wilson opened the meeting by acknowledging the company’s circumstances around losing its General Director in May.

“The way an organization responds to a challenge says a lot about their mettle, and this group is moving forward proudly. We are working hard to ensure that the next leadership team can operate in a fiscally responsible and artistically innovative way,” she said.

Interim Managing Director Eric Lind added, “It is now our 85th Season, a milestone that no other performing arts group in Wisconsin has achieved, and we are looking forward to a long and bright future for the Florentine Opera Company.”

During the meeting, Board V.P. of Finance and Treasurer Mary Shiely presented the financial report, Board V.P of Governance Sarah Damsgaard announced the slate of Florentine Board officers and directors for the 2018-2019 season, and Life Director Mary Read provided an update on the Florentine’s search for a new executive director. This included introducing Jonathan West from Management Consultants for the Arts who is leading the search. Interim Managing Director Eric Lind thanked major season sponsors, which included the United Performing Arts Fund, the Herzfeld Foundation and Bader Philanthropies.

Board secretary Wayne Lueders had the honor of presenting Donald and Donna Baumgartner with the Florentine’s Igniter Award to recognize their $1.5 Million Endowment gift for the Donald and Donna Baumgartner Studio Artist Program.

In his presentation, Wayne Lueders said, “This endowment secures not only the future of the training program here at the Florentine, but it also secures the future of young American opera performers. Donald and Donna’s generous gift will help launch generations of singers as they become the stars of tomorrow.”

An inscription is being installed in the Florentine’s opera center that will read: “The young vocalists who sing in these halls are supported by the generosity of Donald and Donna Baumgartner.”

The Florentine also highlighted the 2017-2018 productions, which included Merry Widow, Venus and Adonis/Dido and Aeneas, Viva Opera and The Magic Flute. The season was made possible thanks to the following sponsors:

Throughout the season, the 2017-2018 class of Baumgartner Studio Artists – soprano Rachel Blaustein, mezzo-soprano Ashley Puenner, tenor Edward Graves and baritone Nathaniel Hill – performed the children’s opera A Busy Bee for nearly 17,000 students. A Busy Bee was composed by the Florentine’s own Ruben Piiranien and was commissioned in conjunction with SHARP Literacy.

The Florentine continued expanding its community based performances with another season of sold-out @ The Center Series concerts at the Wayne & Kristine Lueders Opera Center in Riverwest, along with a full schedule of summer programs, including a world-premiere performance at Summerfest.

The 2017-2018 Annual Meeting ended with an introduction of the 2018-2019 Baumgartner Studio Artists – soprano Nicole Heinen, mezzo-soprano Briana Moynihan, tenor Nicholas Huff and baritone Nathaniel Hill – who performed selections from the upcoming season.

85 years of world-class opera in Milwaukee!

The Florentine Opera Company’s productions reflect the highest musical and theatrical standards, while supporting community and educational programs. As a leader in Wisconsin’s art community and the nation’s sixth-oldest opera company, the Florentine Opera seeks to establish a significant presence in the cultural, educational and civic life of the state of Wisconsin and beyond. The Florentine provides vital arts education experiences for children, nurtures new audiences, and expands cultural horizons for the next generation. The Florentine Opera is a cornerstone member organization of the United Performing Arts Fund and receives funds from Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin (with support from the National Endowment for the Arts), as well as corporations, foundations and individuals. The Florentine Opera Company is an organizational member of OPERA America.

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