Gala goodness: Long Beach Opera’s annual shindig breaks records

lbo_logoLBO 2015 gala breaks fundraising record — Music and youth programs benefit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2015 ( Long Beach, CA ) — Surpassing its fundraising goal, Long Beach Opera’s 37th Annual Gala raised over $210,000 to support its 2016 opera season and Youth Initiative Programs. Honorary Co-Chairs Barbara Bixby Blackwell and Jean Bixby Smith, along with LBO’s Board of Directors, presented the fundraiser, “Glittering Glamorous Giving,” on Saturday November 7, 2015 in the Lagunita Pavilion at the Hotel Maya, Long Beach.

This year’s Gala honored the dedication and generosity of Marie Song and the Seaver Family.

Masters of Ceremony Suzan Hanson & Robin Buck
Masters of Ceremony Suzan Hanson & Robin Buck. Photo by Miguel Angel Bejarano

True to LBO’s motto of “Expect the Unexpected” and the company’s national and international reputation for presenting opera in new forms and unusual spaces, the evening’s festivities celebrated the UNEXPECTED with cocktails, dinner, out-of-the-box entertainment and original music. Opera stars Suzan Hanson and Robin Buck served as Masters of Ceremonies and they, along with a troupe of fellow steampunk-attired singers and actors, delivered semi-in-the-round chorus lines and scenes that created a joyous carnival atmosphere. Their skits, songs, and comedy bits turned the Lagunita Pavilion into a magically energized space.

Enthusiastic bidding on a variety of Silent and Live Auction items highlighted the generosity of those who attended. Among the prizes, auction winners will soon enjoy private music salons with Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek and Pulitzer- prize winning composer Julia Wolfe; a walk-on role in a 2016 production; an evening at the Austrian Consulate in Los Angeles; trips to Santa Fe Opera and Chicago Opera Theater (LBO’s sister company); tours of Vienna and Budapest with Maestro Mitisek; and a luxury cruise of the Mediterranean on board a SeaDream yacht.

Monies raised at the Auction benefit OperaEncounter, LBO’s suite of innovative education and outreach programs for grade school, high school, and college students, as well as the company’s 2016 season.

LBO is proud of its many education programs which spark students’ interest in not only the world of opera, music, and theater, but also in issues of tolerance, social responsibility and personal strength. LBO’s Opera@School programs are recognized by the LA County Commission for the Arts for meeting the CA Education Standards in visual and performing arts, language arts, history and social science.

LBO’s 2016 season begins in January with an immersive production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide at the Center Theater in Long Beach; followed by the world premiere of Fallujah, inspired by a US Marine’s Iraq war experience and staged inside a Long Beach armory; the tour-de-force The Human Voice (La Voix Humaine) at the Federal Bar; and lastly, The News, a video-pop opera for our time by the “Andy Warhol of new music” JacobTV, performed at the Broad Theater in Santa Monica.

Sarah Reynolds, Monika Beal, Stefan Miller, Arnold Geis. Photo by Miguel Angel Bejarano
Sarah Reynolds, Monika Beal, Stefan Miller, Arnold Geis. Photo by Miguel Angel Bejarano

Arts patrons at the Fundraiser included longtime Long Beach philanthropists Jean Bixby Smith and Barbara Bixby Blackwell, Sonja Berggren and Patrick Seaver, Victoria Seaver Dean and Dorn Dean, Joan Nickerson, Carol Richards, Sylvia and Ron Hartman, Suzanne and Dennis Poulson, Joanne Lindquist, Keith Simmons, Michael and Sue Sfregola, Joan Wells, John Sanders with Pma Tregenza, Georgia and John Case, Frieda and Karen Caplan, Bobbette Frye, Anne and Bill Hughes, Lorie and Paul Merrill, Michael Sewright, Catheryn and Doug Smyth, Pamela Thames, and Gerald Solomon and Marie Thomson.

Among the other guests were Mark and Melissa Taylor (Chief of Staff for Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia), Bonnie Lowenthal (former State Assemblywoman and LB City Council member), LBO Board President Sue Bienkowski and Wang Lee, and Drs. Robert Braun and Joan Friedman.

LBO is thrilled to have received the record-breaking generosity of its patrons. Their support helps LBO continue to present OPERA: Out-of-the-box – Provocative – Engaging – Relevant – Adventurous.

Jamie Chamberlin, Arnold Geis, Robin Buck, Sarah Reynolds and Monika Beal. Mark Bringelson and Stefan Miller are hidden by Robin in the photo.
Jamie Chamberlin, Arnold Geis, Robin Buck, Sarah Reynolds and Monika Beal. Mark Bringelson and Stefan Miller are hidden by Robin in the photo. Photo by Miguel Angel Bejarano


Long Beach Opera explores the edges of the operatic experience. Founded in 1979, LBO is the oldest professional opera company in the metropolitan Los Angeles/Orange County region. Its success helped provide the stimulus for the subsequent founding of other opera companies in the area. Internationally known for cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertoire, LBO creates immediate, inventive, and often boldly avant-garde productions for an adventurous audience and stands apart from most other companies in the number of world, American, and West Coast premieres it has staged. Its performance history includes well over 100 operas, ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to the new operas of the 21st. LBO is a recognized member of the American opera community, enjoying funding from many sources including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Long Beach.

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