$250,000 challenge gift from Cathy & Jim Berges and Noémi & Michael Neidorff to support the 2018 Spring Gala in honor of Timothy O’Leary

 ST. LOUIS, Dec. 12, 2017 Opera Theatre of Saint Louis announced a new $250,000 challenge gift from Cathy and Jim Berges and Noémi and Michael Neidorff to match all new and increased gifts for the company’s 2018 Spring Gala: A Toast to Timothy O’Leary and Opera Theatre. The gala will celebrate Mr. O’Leary’s ten-year tenure as general director at Opera Theatre, where he completes his final festival season before taking on the role of general director at Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. 

Thanks to the generosity of the Berges and Neidorffs, all new and increased gifts for Opera Theatre’s 2018 Spring Gala will be matched, up to $250,000. Proceeds from the event will support Opera Theatre’s exceptional artists and the community engagement programs that connect audiences of all ages to the power and beauty of opera. All funds raised beyond the net gala goal will be designated for the Next Generation Fund at Opera Theatre. This new fund will honor Timothy O’Leary’s remarkable accomplishments and provide the resources necessary to ensure a successful transition in leadership, while enabling Opera Theatre to continue its important work cultivating the next generation of artists and audiences. 

“Tim O’Leary’s ten-year tenure as General Director has brought Opera Theatre to new heights, bringing compelling new operas to the stage and deepening OTSL’s connection to the St. Louis community. He has nurtured a legacy of fiscal stability established by his predecessors and strengthened the company’s endowment,” commented Jim Berges. “Cathy and I thought that this challenge gift would be the perfect way to thank him for his impact in St. Louis, to wish him well on the next stage of his career, and to further seed the company’s financial stability for Tim’s future successor. We hope others in the community who believe in Opera Theatre’s significance will join us in supporting OTSL and celebrating Tim.” 

“Opera Theatre’s financial security has always been grounded in the incredible support of the St. Louis community,” Noémi Neidorff adds. “As Opera Theatre prepares to welcome its next general director, the Next Generation Fund will help ensure that the company maintains its pre-eminent position nationally and internationally, during the transition. Michael and I believe that this challenge can inspire new and increased support for Opera Theatre and help launch the company into its next era of innovation and fiscal strength. I can think of no tribute to Tim’s legacy more fitting than that.” 

The 2018 Spring Gala: A Toast to Timothy O’Leary and Opera Theatre will be held at the Sally S. Levy Opera Center on Saturday, May 12, and is chaired by Cathy and Jim Berges and 

Marsha and Bill Rusnack. Acclaimed Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will offer a performance at this special evening. Hailed by The New York Times as “an artist to treasure,” Ms. Graham made her professional leading role debut at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 1988 in Vanessa – the beginning of a career which has brought her to the world’s greatest stages, including 25 years of ongoing appearances in major roles at The Metropolitan Opera. Tickets and sponsorships range from $500 to $100,000, and can be reserved by contacting Special Events Manager Cameron James via phone at (314) 963-4223 or email at cjames@opera-stl.org. 

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2018 Festival Season opens on May 19, 2018, and will feature Verdi’s La traviata directed by renowned soprano Patricia Racette, Marc Blitzstein’s Regina starring Susan Graham, James Morris, Susanna Phillips, and Ron Raines, the world premiere of the two-act performing version of An American Soldier by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang, Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice, and the annual young artist showcase concert Center Stage conducted by Stephen Lord. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased online, in person at the Loretto-Hilton Center Box Office, or by calling (314) 961-0644. 

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About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony. As of its 2017 Festival Season, Opera Theatre has presented 26 world premieres and 27 American premieres — which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company. Described by the Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit. 

Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation. Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Erie Mills, Jerry Hadley, Christine Brewer, Thomas Hampson, Sylvia McNair, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Dwayne Croft, Patricia Racette, Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee, Kelly Kaduce, and Jennifer Johnson Cano. Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director. Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding the late Colin Graham. 

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council

Generous leadership support for the services of the St. Louis Symphony is provided by the Taylor family and the late Jack C. Taylor

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