Posted: April 29, 2015

By TheRoanokeStar.com

Opera Roanoke has been promised $100,000 if they can raise matching funds by the end of their fiscal year, which is June 30.

An anonymous donor has committed to making the generous gift to the local opera company – about to celebrate its 40th anniversary season with Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” this coming October and Verdi’s “La Traviata” in April 2016 – assuming the dollars can be matched by the community in the next two months.

The grant stipulates that Opera Roanoke bring in new or increased gifts up to $100,000 within the tight time frame, and it further specifies that half the total funds raised (the original gift plus the matching dollars) go toward operating expenses, with the other half going to the endowment, helping to ensure that live professional opera will continue to be presented in Roanoke.

Jeff Marks, CEO of WDBJ7 and Chairman of the Board of Opera Roanoke, is cautiously optimistic about the company’s ability to raise the needed matching dollars. “We’re already at about $35,000, with several long-time supporters also indicating they are considering adding to their usual annual gifts to help us qualify for the new or increased gifts requirement.”

Operating on an annual budget of less than $600,000, Opera Roanoke presents two major operatic productions, as well as several smaller shows, per season. An additional $200,000 would have a significant impact, particularly on its well-regarded but under-funded Apprentice Artists program. These up and coming singers, future Rene Flemings and Placido Domingos, will perform in “A Weekend in the Country”, songs of Sondheim and Weil, on May 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Waldron Stage at Center on Church.  Admission is free, although a $20 donation is suggested, and reservations are strongly encouraged.

Chairman Marks emphasized that with $65,000 dollars yet to raise in order to secure the offered gift, every donation, no matter what size, is urgently needed and appreciated. Opera lovers, music lovers, performing arts lovers, and all those who just believe that having a professional opera company right here in Roanoke is of great value to the cultural life of our community, are urged to contribute whatever amount they can.   For more information please call (540) 982-2742, or visit www.operaroanoke.org.