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Press Released: 23 Jan 2012

OPERA America Announces Recipients of Its 2012 National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards

Joseph and Judy Liff-Barker (Nashville Opera), Elizabeth Eveillard (The Glimmerglass Festival), Susan F. Morris (The Santa Fe Opera), William C. Morris (The Metropolitan Opera) and Dr. George R. White (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh) to be Honored in New York in February

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award. In its fifth year, this award honors outstanding trustees of U.S. opera companies for exemplary leadership, generosity and audience-building efforts on behalf of their respective opera companies.

The recipients of the 2012 National Opera Trustee Recognition Award are Joseph and Judy Liff-Barker of Nashville Opera, Elizabeth Eveillard of The Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY), Susan F. Morris of The Santa Fe Opera, William C. Morris of The Metropolitan Opera and Dr. George R. White of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Dr. White, who passed away on January 14, 2012, is being honored posthumously.

“We are delighted to be joined by Bank of America in celebrating the significant and enduring contributions of these devoted trustees,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “The National Opera Trustee Recognition Award affords the entire opera community with the opportunity to salute and learn from those who have been so generous in their passion for the art form, vision and support of their opera companies.”

Each year, OPERA America member companies are invited to nominate one of their trustees for this award. Honorees from each of the four OPERA America budget levels are chosen by an adjudication committee through a competitive selection process. Recognizing the combined monumental contributions to two of the country’s largest opera companies, both Susan F. and William C. Morris, husband and wife, are being honored in the level 1 budget category.

The National Opera Trustee Recognition program is led by OPERA America Vice Chairman and Chairman-Elect Frayda B. Lindemann (New York, NY); committee members include Betty Eveillard* (New York, NY), Fred Good (Cincinnati, OH), Ruth Orth (Pensacola, FL) and Fillmore Wood (Corona del Mar, CA).

These honorees represent a significant range of accomplishments, generosity and a deep commitment to promoting opera in their communities. The following profiles illustrate just a few examples of their dedication.

2012 Award Recipients

Susan F. Morris
The Santa Fe Opera

Level 1 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget Over $10M)

Susan F. Morris attended her first Santa Fe Opera performance as part of the Gala Opening Celebration for the company’s 40th season in 1996. As a token of her admiration for the company’s founder and general director, Mrs. Morris and her husband established the John Crosby Production Endowment Fund, which each season helps to underwrite one production. She became a member of the board of directors of The Santa Fe Opera in 1999 and was later elected vice president in 2001 and president in 2003, serving until 2011. During that time, she chaired the Building a Sound Future Campaign, providing the single largest gift to the $30 million multi-year campaign to improve rehearsal and patron facilities. Mrs. Morris was a hands-on president, bringing to the opera her extensive experience from the board of trustees of her alma mater, the Masters School and providing advice and support to Richard Gaddes, the company’s second general director. She spearheaded the search for the company’s third general director, identifying and then recruiting Charles MacKay for the position. In her leadership capacity, she participated in the strategic planning process undertaken by the board of directors in concert with Mr. MacKay. Mrs. Morris has advocated for the company with the Mayor and City Council, and also walked the halls of the state capitol to campaign on behalf of The Santa Fe Opera with state legislators. “The Morris’s contributions to both institutions are immeasurable, and a lasting legacy to their passion and commitment to the operatic art form,” observed Charles MacKay, general director, The Santa Fe Opera.

William C. Morris
The Metropolitan Opera

Level 1 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget Over $10M)

William C. Morris, the current chairman of the Metropolitan Opera’s Executive Committee, recently completed eight years of exemplary service as the company’s president and chief executive officer, a period of extraordinary artistic achievement and unparalleled fundraising success. Mr. Morris’s association with the Met began in 1995, and since that time, his board roles have included advisory director, managing director and president and CEO. He has made remarkably generous unrestricted operating gifts each fiscal year, in addition to participating at the highest possible level in Met galas and special events. On top of his unrestricted gifts, Mr. Morris also underwrote a number of new productions and other special projects. Perhaps most importantly, he oversaw the long-range planning process that resulted in a $470 million Campaign for the Met, of which $320 million has been raised to date and to which he contributed generously. As a strong advocate for audience development, he has been a particularly keen supporter of General Manager Peter Gelb’s Live in HD program of movie theater performance transmissions. Mr. Morris has also demonstrated his commitment to engaging new audiences through his support of the Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Tickets program. He also contributed extra gifts to expand the Rush Tickets program to include weekend performances. Today, the Met’s board is stronger, better informed, and more engaged than ever before, thanks to Mr. Morris’ stewardship. He has helped the Met assume a leadership role in the larger cultural community with his financial acumen and bold support of the art form of opera.

Elizabeth Eveillard
The Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY)

Level 2 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget $3M – $10M)

Betty Eveillard has devoted herself over the past decade to the successful governance of The Glimmerglass Festival. Mrs. Eveillard brought to Glimmerglass extensive experience as a member of corporate and college boards, as well as the background of her 30-year professional career in investment banking. Throughout her tenure, she has been a voice of balance and sensitivity as she assisted the board in making decisions which enabled Glimmerglass to remain true to its artistic mission, while considering fresh ideas in response to the financial climate, changes in audience behavior and initiatives and opportunities brought forth by new artistic and general directors. Mrs. Eveillard and her husband, Jean-Marie, understand the important philanthropic role of a board officer, contributing to the annual sponsorship of a production. As production sponsors, they provide generous personal encouragement to the talented artists involved in these productions. Mrs. Eveillard has also consistently served on committees for Glimmerglass’ annual fundraising galas in New York City. Her warmth and personal enjoyment at these events — and her hard work at making them successful — are exemplary of her overarching generosity, spirit and love for Glimmerglass. Glimmerglass Vice Chair Patricia Kavanagh credits Mrs. Eveillard with inspiring model stewardship of the organization: “Everything Betty has done for Glimmerglass flows from her love of opera and specifically this organization. It has formed her leadership of the board and widened our circle of enthusiastic supporters. It’s catching.” Mrs. Eveillard is a graduate of Smith College and Harvard Business School.

Joseph and Judy Liff-Barker
Nashville Opera

Level 3 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget $1M – $3M)

The Judy Liff and Joe Barker Family have been involved with Nashville Opera for more than 20 years as donors, subscribers and also serving in volunteer leadership roles. Their transformational lead gift not only gave Nashville Opera a permanent home, but also a new revenue stream and community asset in the form of the Noah Liff Opera Center which includes theater-scale rehearsal space, costume shop and warm up rooms — all in one location. Their behind-the-scenes roles have been pivotal for the organization. The Liff-Barker family have worked tirelessly to raise five, six and seven-figure support for Nashville Opera. Most recently, the Liff-Barker family made a second generous gift to help the Capital Campaign come closer to its goal and receive a challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation. This donation and grant award is enabling Nashville Opera to make the final loan payment for the Noah Liff Opera Center in February 2012 and puts the Opera within $1 million of its $12 million endowment goal. In 2009, when the recession caused other donors to delay their pledge payments, the Liff-Barker family accelerated their gift payments to ensure Nashville Opera could make term loan payments. Zachary Liff, Judy’s son, was instrumental in the development of the Young Lovers of Opera group and currently serves on the Nashville Opera board. Nashville Opera would not be where it is today without the Judy Liff and Joseph Barker family for their vision, generosity and commitment.

Dr. George R. White
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

Level 4/5 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget Under $1M)

Dr. George R. White, former Opera Theater of Pittsburgh board president and generous friend, had a deep and abiding love for opera and boundless energy in sharing his enthusiasm for the discipline with others. Thanks to his unyielding efforts and philanthropy, Pittsburgh was able to build up a great capacity for producing opera at much higher quality levels than would have been possible. His visionary leadership had been a primary force in Opera Theater’s recent transformation into a summer festival. Dr. White viewed his greatest achievement as pursuing the vision and securing the funding for “The Pittsburgh Ring,” Opera Theater’s production of Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle in the Jonathan Dove orchestration. Five years ago, Dr. White placed his reputation and financial support on the line to encourage Opera Theater and Pittsburgh Opera to establish an innovative collaboration. This resulted in a marketing and co-production partnership with Pittsburgh Opera to bring new and inventive productions to the Pittsburgh area. Dr. White encouraged Opera Theater to think more expansively about diversity, beyond casting, to include repertoire selection. As a result, Opera Theater produced an extraordinary series of operas that addressed the African-American experience in the U.S. and appealed to the African-American community. In the last several years, Dr. White encouraged Opera Theater to assemble cost-effective productions of both new and canonical works to encourage the company to ensure that opera will be relevant and economically viable in the 21st century. Dr. White had been a champion for opera in Pittsburgh and raised the artistic quality of the art form, and provided more opportunities for music lovers in Pittsburgh to enjoy opera. Dr. White died on January 14, 2012, at the age of 82.

OPERA America will pay tribute to these 2011 honorees and celebrate their remarkable achievements at a February dinner and reception in New York City.

OPERA America’s commitment to recognizing excellence in governance is shared by its sister organization Opera.ca, the Canadian national association for opera. Opera.ca honors Peter George of Manitoba Opera as the 2011-2012 recipient of its National Opera Directors Recognition Program.

The National Opera Trustee Recognition Program is made possible by the generous support of Bank of America.

Note: Reflecting that she was both a committee member and a nominee, Betty Eveillard did not participate in the discussion and selection of the recipient of the National Opera Trustee Recognition Award in her budget level.

Previous Award Recipients

Eleanor “Ellie” Caulkins, Opera Colorado
Jackie Lockwood, Dayton Opera
John I. (Jack) Riddle, PORTopera
Lynn Wyatt, Houston Grand Opera

Jeffrey A. Evershed, Portland Opera
Benjamin Keaton, Long Leaf Opera Company
Fred and Eve Simon, Opera Omaha
Marc I. Stern, Los Angeles Opera

John T. Cody Jr., The Dallas Opera
Richard Holland, Opera Omaha
Beth Ingram, Lyric Opera of Kansas City
C. Guy Rudisill III, Piedmont Opera

Betty W. Healey, Opera Birmingham
Sally S. Levy, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Jane A. Robinson, Florida Grand Opera
G. Whitney Smith, Fort Worth Opera


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.