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Courtesy of Toledo Blade, 2015- Published Sunday, May 17, 2015
The Toledo Opera transformed the Toledo Club into an operatic cabaret for its 2015 Gala, Men in Black with baritone and bass voices in the spotlight. The May 9 benefit offered nearly 175 guests a chance to get up close and personal with five deep-voiced stars of previous productions.
Chairmen Allan and Susan Block, Michael and Karen McMurray, and Kim and Doug Kearns welcomed guests heading into the sparkling evening of fine food, finer singing, and celebration of the area’s 57-year old presenting company.
Drinks and hors d’oeuvres, then it was showtime. How delicious to hear Michael Chioldi (Tosca), Kristopher Irmiter (Lucia), Jamie Offenbach (Faust), Hyung Sun (Lucia), and Mark Rucker (Aida) in such an intimate setting. Solo performances drew energy and drama from one another, seemingly striving to outdo each preceding performance. With Kevin Bylsma’s savvy intros and sensitive partnering at the piano, arias from operas by Mozart, Verdi, Gounod, Leoncavallo, and Giordano plus faves from Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, and Leigh’s Man of La Mancha thrilled everyone. An encore brought out all five MiB for “If Ever I Would Leave You,” from Camelot.
A filet mignon dinner was capped with Mrs. Block’s succulent apricot cheesecake tarts, followed with dancing to the John Cleveland Trio. JB Rorick cut a rug on the dance floor with Jenny Cresswell, the opera’s resident librettist, while her hubby, Brad, music director of WGTE-FM, chatted with fans.
Toledo Opera head Suzanne Rorick reported that the expected $30,000 raised meant, “we are, in fact, in the black.”
Seen were Zak and Emilie Vassar, Betsy and Judge Reeve Kelsey, and Dr. Allen and Hindea Markowicz, opera trustees. Also savoring the event were supporters Traci and Dr. Tom Schwann, Boo and Chris Hensien, Paula and Peter Brown, Kim Collins and Bill Cosgrove, Lou Tosi and Mary Ellen Pisanelli, Mike and Carol Anderson, and Dick and Lovi Aldinger.