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Press Published: 07 Dec 2021

OPERA America Announces 2022 Opera Hall of Fame Inductees and 2022 National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards

Recipients to be honored at OPERA America Salutes, March 4, 2022.

OPERA America is pleased to announce honors for exemplary artists, administrators, advocates, and trustees in two prestigious award programs, the Opera Hall of Fame and National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards.

The 2022 Opera Hall of Fame inductees are:

  • Reri Grist, soprano and teacher
  • Charles MacKay, general director
  • Marlena Malas, voice teacher
  • Virginia Zeani, soprano and teacher

The 2022 National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards recipients are:

  • Gary Casagrande, MassOpera
  • Arlene Ferebee, Opera Carolina
  • John Fitzgerald, IN Series
  • Susan G. Marineau, The Santa Fe Opera
  • Ranney Mize, New Orleans Opera

OPERA America will induct the Opera Hall of Fame honorees and bestow the National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards at OPERA America Salutes on Friday, March 4, 2022, in New York City. Hosted by Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, the event will pay tribute to some of the opera field’s most accomplished figures and mark OPERA America’s 50th anniversary as the industry’s champion. The evening will include cocktails, dinner, and a musical performance.

Proceeds from the event will support the next generation of opera leaders by sustaining OPERA America’s professional development programs, including the Leadership Intensive, New General Director Roundtable, and Mentorship Programs as part of its 50 More Campaign. Single tickets ($250+) and tables ($5,000+) to OPERA America Salutes are available at operaamerica.org/OASalutes; reservations are required by Tuesday, February 15, 2022.

“After an extremely challenging two years, OPERA America is thrilled to gather once again to celebrate some of the most influential members of the American opera community,” expressed Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “The Opera Hall of Fame and National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards recognize those whose contributions have shaped the field and laid the groundwork for opera to flourish in the future. It is a fitting way to finally celebrate OPERA America’s 50th anniversary, which was cut short in 2020 by the pandemic.”

Opera Hall of Fame

The 2022 Opera Hall of Fame honorees will be inducted alongside the previously announced 2021 class, including:

  • Patricia K. Beggs, general director
  • Grace Bumbry, soprano and teacher
  • Matthew Epstein, impresario and artistic director
  • Simon Estes, bass-baritone and teacher
  • Gordon Getty, composer and philanthropist
  • David Gockley, general director
  • Camille LaBarre, trustee and philanthropist
  • George Shirley, tenor and teacher
  • Dawn Upshaw, soprano and teacher
  • Roma Wittcoff, trustee and philanthropist

The Opera Hall of Fame recognizes the achievements of outstanding living American artists, administrators, and advocates who have strengthened the art form and the field. It was established on the occasion of OPERA America’s 50th anniversary in 2020 to help celebrate the progress of the industry over the past half-century.

A private unveiling of the Opera Hall of Fame installation will take place on Saturday, March 5, at OPERA America’s National Opera Center.

The inaugural year of the Opera Hall of Fame was made possible with the generous support of the Theodore H. Barth Foundation Inc.

Nominations are for the 2023 cycle of the Opera Hall of Fame will be accepted beginning December 1, 2021, and close January 15, 2022. For more information about the Opera Hall of Fame and to submit nominations, visit operaamerica.org/HallofFame.

National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards

The 2022 National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards recipients will be honored at OPERA America Salutes alongside the previously announced 2020 recipients, whose awards dinner was canceled in March 2020 due to COVID-19. 2020 recipients include:

  • Robert Ellis, San Francisco Opera
  • Linda Koehn, Des Moines Metro Opera
  • Phil Meyer, Pacific Opera Project
  • Chris and Anita Murray, Opera Las Vegas
  • Bernt von Ohlen, Minnesota Opera

The National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards honor outstanding trustees of U.S opera companies for their exemplary leadership and generosity on behalf of their respective organizations. They highlight the tenets of good governance and provide models of trustee excellence.

OPERA America’s commitment to recognizing excellence in governance is shared by its partner organization, the Association for Opera in Canada, which will honor Carey Newman - Hayalthkin’geme, vice president of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Board of Directors, at OPERA America Salutes as the 2022 recipient of its National Opera Directors Recognition Award. Elba Haid of Manitoba Opera will also be honored this year as the 2020 recipient.

The National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards are made possible with the generous support of Bank of America.

For more information about the National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards, including past recipients, visit operaamerica.org/NOTRA.


(Publicity Photos)

2022 Hall of Fame Inductees

Reri Grist
Soprano and Teacher

Reri Grist is one of the trailblazing Black opera singers to forge a major international career in the mid-20th century. The Brooklyn-born soprano appeared in small roles on Broadway as a teenager before studying voice at Queens College. Her career breakthrough came in 1957 when she was cast as Consuelo in the original Broadway production of West Side Story. At Leonard Bernstein’s encouragement, she went on to pursue a career in opera and made her operatic debut at The Santa Fe Opera in 1959, as Adele in Die Fledermaus.

For the next three decades, Grist went on to triumph in cornerstones of the coloratura repertoire. She appeared at Europe’s major houses and enjoyed a particularly long relationship with the Vienna State Opera, where she sang for 25 seasons. She made her Met debut in 1966 as Rosina and appeared for 13 seasons with the company.   

Since retiring from the stage in 1991, Grist has focused on teaching, holding professorships at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich. She has also given masterclasses for young artist programs including those at The Santa Fe Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and San Francisco Opera.

Charles MacKay
General Director

Charles MacKay, former general director of The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, has served the opera field for more than 50 years. Born in Albuquerque and raised in Santa Fe, MacKay become involved with The Santa Fe Opera as a teenager, first as a volunteer and then as a French horn player, before taking on various administrative roles under company founder John Crosby. He left Santa Fe to serve as director of finance and administration for Spoleto Festival USA from 1978 to 1984.

In 1984, MacKay joined Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as executive director and the following year was named its general director. During his 24-year tenure at OTSL, MacKay led the company’s first major endowment campaign, established a permanent home for the company at Sally S. Levy Opera Center, and commissioned more than 10 world premieres.

From 2008 to 2018, he served as general director of The Santa Fe Opera, where he bolstered the company’s finances while furthering its tradition of bold, innovative repertory. Under his aegis, the company commissioned five world premieres, including Cold Mountain and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, and staged company premieres of works like Fidelio, The Pearl Fishers, and La donna del lago.

MacKay has served several terms on OPERA America’s Board of Directors, beginning in the 1980s, and was board chairman from 2004 and 2008. He was recently elected as an emeritus board member.

Marlena Malas
Voice Teacher

Marlena Malas is an esteemed voice teacher who serves on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, and Manhattan School of Music and as chair of the voice department at the Chautauqua Institute. Since the early 1980s when she began teaching, Malas has helped shape the careers of countless singers, most recently artists like Nicole Cabell, Brandon Cedel. Susan Graham, Brandon Jovanovich, and Jarett Ott.

In addition to her posts at conservatories, Malas has also served as a vocal consultant and teacher for Canadian Opera Company, the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, English National Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Castleton Festival, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has led masterclasses for numerous institutions, including the Blossom Music Festival, San Francisco Opera Center, The Santa Fe Opera, the Metropolitan Opera National Council, Westminster Choir College, and Rutgers University.

Before turning to teaching full-time, Malas enjoyed a stage career as a mezzo-soprano, singing with companies including The Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Miami Opera, and Boston Opera. She is featured in the 1992 recording of Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes under the direction of Rudolf Serkin and Leon Fleisher.

Virginia Zeani
Soprano and Teacher

Virginia Zeani, one of the leading sopranos of the 20th century, set her sights on becoming an opera singer when, as a child growing up in Romania, she heard a performance of Madama Butterfly. After studying in Bucharest and Milan, Zeani made her professional debut in 1948 at the Teatro Duse in Bologna, singing what would become one of her signature roles: Violetta in La traviata. She soon rose to international stardom in bel canto roles like Elvira in I puritani, the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, and Gilda in Rigoletto, and would go on to conquer a remarkably wide swath of the soprano repertoire — some 69 roles in all. Zeani created roles in several contemporary operas, most notably Blanche in the 1957 premiere of Dialogues of the Carmelites.

In 1980, Zeani and her husband, the late bass Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, joined the voice faculty of Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington. She was awarded the rank of distinguished professor of music in 1994 and went on to teach for the next two decades, nurturing the talents of singers like Angela Brown, Elizabeth Futral, Sylvia McNair, and Ailyn Pérez. Following her retirement in 2004, Zeani has continued to teach privately.


2022 National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards Recipients

Gary Casagrande
Budget 5 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget Under $250K)

Gary Casagrande, an expert in financial services who serves as vice president of global market strategy at Confluence, joined MassOpera as its board chair in 2019. During his tenure, Casagrande has proven to be a pillar of support for MassOpera’s board members and staff, leading with decisiveness, compassion, and good humor.

Last year, Casagrande led the board to establish a Racial Equity Committee to address issues of systemic and institutional racism and established benchmarks for racial diversity. He also helped recruit a new board member with an established career in DEI consulting; that board member’s consulting firm is now working with MassOpera to provide training and develop a strategic plan to make racial equity foundational to the company.

Casagrande has played an essential role in guiding MassOpera through the pandemic. He championed Social DistanSing, a performance series conceived by Co-Artistic Director Daniel P. Ryan in which singers performed on flat-bed trucks throughout the community. Casagrande successfully built consensus around the project, arguing it would build goodwill and expand the company’s footprint, as well as employ singers. More recently, he helped the company organize its first in-person event in two years, a gala fundraiser, and took a hands-on role in pivoting the event to an outdoor venue to conform to safety mandates.

Arlene Ferebee
Opera Carolina
Budget 2 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget $3M – $15M)

Arlene Ferebee is senior director for strategic planning at Novant Health, a network of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and the immediate past chair of Opera Carolina. During her tenure as chair from 2018 to 2021 and in her current role as a board member, Ferebee has led the way in creating a positive culture that has enhanced the organization’s success. After becoming chair, she guided the company’s leadership through the process of clarifying roles, setting goals, and increasing cooperation and communication, and led a retreat for staff to strengthen internal relationships.

Ferebee has consistently set an example for leadership and philanthropy that has been met by the members of the board, achieving 100 percent participation in the annual fund and attendance at meetings, special events, and performances. She led the company through difficult financial times in 2018 and 2019 and was the key leader who secured a $500,000 commitment from Novant Health to be the title sponsor of the new musical drama I Dream. During that same period, she called the board to action to consider inventive ways to improve income and cash flow.

Ferebee played a crucial role in helping the opera company weather the pandemic, arranging for epidemiology specialists to advise staff and artists, helping to guide the creating of the company’s COVID protocols, and encouraging innovation and creativity in new online programs and small-scale events.

John Fitzgerald
IN Series
Budget 4 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget $250K – $1M)

John Fitzgerald, a prominent business and civic leader in Washington, D.C., has served on IN Series’ board since 2015 and as its president since 2018. In the first year of his presidency, Fitzgerald imagined and personally funded the creation of a grants program for IN Series that has more than tripled the company’s annual institutional support. He has also leveraged his business acumen to construct a development strategy that has more than doubled the company’s annual budget over the past three years.

Fitzgerald’s leadership has proved crucial during the pandemic. In spring 2020, he and Artistic Director Timothy Nelson made IN Series among the first opera companies to announce a virtual season. Fitzgerald then led the effort to raise capital funds for INvision, a virtual opera house that has offered over 40 digital works. At the same time, he spearheaded the company’s strategic planning process, leading to an ambitious and courageous vision for the next five years and a restructuring of the board and its committees.

Fitzgerald has also been deeply committed to IN Series’ racial justice practices and DEI work, overseeing the board's acceptance of a DEI policy. He is the principal advocate and donor behind the new Cardwell Dawson Artist Fellowship, a four-year program for BIPOC singer-activists that grants leadership roles, board seats, and decision-making power.

Susan G. Marineau
The Santa Fe Opera
Budget 1 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget Over $15M)

Susan G. Marineau is a working artist with a studio in the San Francisco Bay Area who has served on the board of The Santa Fe Opera since 2011. As the board’s president from 2015 to 2020 and its current chair, she has helped SFO successfully navigate the ever-changing landscape of the arts.

In addition to her generous contributions to the company’s annual and capital campaigns, Marineau has demonstrated profound support of women and BIPOC artists at SFO. In 2010, she established the Marineau Family Foundation Fund for Female Technical Apprentices, funding in perpetuity one female technical apprentice each season, and earlier this year created an analogous program for female BIPOC apprentices. She also recently announced a $1 million planned gift to create the Marineau Fund for Female Directors and Conductors.

Marineau has worked to strengthen the board and increase its effectiveness — focusing on increasing engagement within committees, listening to board member ideas, and fostering leadership skills through the creation of co-chairmanships and additional officer positions. Through personal solicitations and constant encouragement, she has also spurred an increase in board giving, resulting in a 52 percent increase in board gifts during her first three years as president.

In addition to her role at The Santa Fe Opera, she serves as president of the Marineau Family Foundation, a board member of San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a vice chair of OPERA America’s board.

Ranney Mize
New Orleans Opera Association
Budget 3 Honoree
(Annual Company Budget $1M – $3M)

Ranney Mize, an emeritus professor of cell biology and anatomy at Louisiana State University, has served on the board of New Orleans Opera Association for the past 17 years, holding the roles of development officer, vice president, president, and immediate past president.

In 2016, when he was president, Mize spearheaded the company’s first strategic plan. He engaged local community leaders and the opera company’s board, staff, and volunteers to create a new direction for NOOA that would address its goals of educating the public about the value of opera, increasing access, and creating a diverse and inclusive culture. Mize advocated that the strategic plan should include an expansion of programming to address the city’s diverse communities and cultures, resulting in productions of works like As One, María de Buenos Aires, and Champion.

In 2020, Mize assumed leadership of the Transition Committee whose search for a new general director culminated in the appointment of Clare Burovac, the first woman to lead the company. Mize was also a guiding force in NOOA’s development of its first DEI policy, helping to build consensus among board members that led to unanimous approval of the policy in early 2021.

In addition to his work with NOOA, Mize is the immediate past president of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and has served on the boards of Southern Rep Theatre and the Arts Council of New Orleans.


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

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