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Video Published: 20 Jul 2022

An Oral History with David Bamberger

On July 20th, 2021, director and arts administrator David Bamberger sat down with OPERA America's President/CEO Marc A. Scorca for a conversation about opera and their life.

This interview was originally recorded on July 20th, 2021. 
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

David Bamberger, director, arts administrator

David Bamberger has staged over 250 productions with stars including Roberta Peters, Sherrill Milnes, and Jerome Hines. After co-founding Cleveland Opera, he served as its General Director for 28 years, growing it into one of America’s major regional companies. From 2004-2018 he was Artistic Director of the Opera Program for the Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Bamberger’s staging has been enjoyed throughout the U.S. and around the world. He has served on the Board of Directors for OPERA America, and in 2020 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association.  

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Marc A. Scorca: I always start with a question: who brought you to your first opera?

David Bamberger: The beginning was my parents and the first show - I don't know whether you count it - was the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company doing Iolanthe down at the St. James Theater in New York. I grew up in New York. I remember very clearly my father giving me the background before the curtain went up, and thinking to myself, "I get all this, but what do children do, who don't have fathers who know everything?" And the poetry of all this, is that my staff decided that my last big production at Cleveland Opera ought to be Iolanthe; that I should close the circle. And we did that.

Marc A. Scorca: How wonderful. And do you recall from that first experience just being swept away by it; being bored by it? What was your reaction to it?

David Bamberger: I was completely dazzled and, in fact, I wanted to put on the show in my school. They ran into a number of problems, the main one being that: well, first of all, I was second grade; and the second is that it was an all boys' school and the boys were not sympathetic to the idea of playing a chorus of fairies. So it dissolved fairly quickly as a project, but my staff was quite enamored of the story and made sure that we closed the circle at Cleveland Opera. It was a very good production. It didn't look much like what the D'Oyly Carte had done, if I recall. I think the first opera-opera I ever saw was at New York City Opera and that was Cenerentola. And I remember I came away with two very, very strong reactions. One, that Frannie Bible was wonderful (who played the title role) and I got to work with her at City Opera. So that was like 'ahhhhhhh'. The other was that people were laughing and I didn't understand what they were laughing at, because it was in Italian. And that became a theme of the rest of my life. At Cleveland Opera, we were the first company to introduce supertitles. And when we started, the company was all in English and then we switched to supertitles.

Marc A. Scorca: And there is such a pattern of that across the country of companies that began performing only in English, and then went the way of projected translations when they finally became available. But I wanted to (ask) - and I'm glad you mentioned City Opera as a start - because in capturing some of these memories, (and we'll learn more about you woven through all of these questions) - what City Opera meant in your day of attending Cenerentola there? What it meant in your early days as you advanced career-wise? What was City Opera to this country in those days?

David Bamberger: It was the young upstart; the David (David and Goliath) when I was on the staff and we went to Lincoln Center for the first time. I wasn't in the first year, but I was the second year at Lincoln Center, when (Beverly) Sills and (Placido) Domingo and (Norman) Treigle became the big stars and The Met was kind of floundering a little bit. So we were very young upstarty. But before that, it just meant: first of all, a young person could go to the theater. I'm talking about after my parents were taking me, and the repertoire was amazing. I remember vividly the first time I saw The Medium, which was done on a double bill with The Old Maid and the Thief. There was a season of American opera where I remember seeing Lost in the Stars. So it meant that you could see a really varied repertoire. They did standard repertoire as well. So, I got to see my first Carmen. Also (it) didn't change much over the years. So my concern for opera as theater also seems to have been very long embedded in me, but the City Opera really was a proving ground for some of the great stars, such as Domingo, Sills, (Sherrill) Milnes and Cornell MacNeil. And there was a commitment to the theater aspect of it. Jose Quintero (and other) Broadway theater directors were used for the productions long before that became sort of 'in', and it was great, even though it wasn't a very big theater. I saw The Medium from pretty well the last seat in the theater and practically fell out of my chair at the ending: it was so gripping, even though it was over a vast distance.

Marc A. Scorca: And that was back at 55th Street at that time, not at Lincoln Center. And you mentioned where young people could go to the opera. And I assume by extension - correct me if I'm wrong - that you mean that the ticket prices were prices young people could afford, and you could afford to go with some regularity (if not frequently) but then there wasn't a barrier of price.

David Bamberger: Right.

Marc A. Scorca: Those were amazing years. And, the longer we go without the City Opera we knew, the more I miss it for that opportunity for young singers to really develop their repertoires; develop their stage experience, but to do so in a place where they're getting reviews and where they were introduced to a wide audience and to other people coming through New York.

David Bamberger: All of the above. Yeah. It was a great institution. It got young people onto the staff too. I mean, that's where I got my professional start: again, following on Gilbert and Sullivan, everything in my career has Gilbert and Sullivan...

Marc A. Scorca: What actually was your first job at City Opera?

David Bamberger: Funny story there too, but the answer is: I was the assistant director (on the directing staff), which meant that I was the staff person who kept track of the whole operation of the rehearsal process and making sure that the directors got the rehearsal time they needed, and who was available, cause there was a dozen different shows being rehearsed at the same time. And then I kept the staging records; put in understudies, and I was also responsible for communicating with the technical staff, as to what props (were required) and where they needed to be. In fact, what a stage manager does in the Broadway theater or the commercial theater minus the technical aspect of it. So I didn't call the cues.

Marc A. Scorca: I want to change the dial a little bit and I want to talk about the Met Opera tour, because you transferred your residence to Cleveland and we'll get into some of the things you did in Cleveland, but the environment was: a major Met tour every year to the city of Cleveland. And now that the memory of the tour is beginning to fade because it's been years since it took place: what was it like for the city to host The Met; to anticipate The Met; to experience The Met week in Cleveland? What was the tour like for you in Cleveland?

David Bamberger: First of all, it went on for a very long time. I think it was the city that had the longest or second longest tour, but it became embedded in the real social fabric of the city and in the early days (and I'm talking about long before my time), the great stars all toured there. Even in my time, I saw Sills; I saw Richard Tucker; I saw Robert Merrill, so some of the stars, but for most of that time, they were in this great big barn of an auditorium that sat 6,000 people or something like that. And everything of course was amplified. So it wasn't the world's greatest artistic experience, because in my day many, if not most of the big name artists had ceased going on tour because the easy way to travel was no longer getting on a train and going from city to city, it was flying to the major opera houses of the world. So we saw some very good stuff and some stuff that was not very good, in addition to which when The Met moved into Lincoln Center, it no longer had sets that could travel. Originally, they had wing and border and so they packed up from 39th Street and went on a train or truck, whatever it was. But once the company moved to Lincoln Center, obviously they were getting great designers and they were given great facilities to design it, and they were not about to limit their vision to what could fit into an arena in Cleveland. So what came out in terms of the tour was old touring sets or old sets from the pre Lincoln Center days. So things started to run down. Then eventually when we moved to the State Theater, The Met moved as well. But again, it was bringing less-than-stellar casts, and less-than-stellar scenery and eventually it simply ran out of steam.

Marc A. Scorca: But for all of this, the tour was a week wasn't it?

David Bamberger: Yeah. Seven or eight shows, in sequence.

Marc A. Scorca: So the local opera audience had this pent-up interest that was fulfilled in a week. That was it.

David Bamberger: Right.

Marc A. Scorca: It's just fascinating, cause you hear about it in a few other cities about how the energy, the excitement. People would take the week off to be able to partake in all of the activities.

David Bamberger: People would come from out of town: that is former Clevelanders would decide they'd come and visit their friends and relatives, and they'd pick Met week to do it, so that they would have all of the above and the big social events around it.

Marc A. Scorca: It was an event. Lake Erie Opera Company, 1969. How was that?

David Bamberger: When the Cleveland Orchestra moved for the summer to Blossom Music Center, they found themselves - I'm not sure that was a cause and effect thing, but around the same time that they were expanding the number of weeks that they were guaranteeing their instrumentalists, they didn't have enough performing opportunities for them. So you had the world-class orchestra being guaranteed more services than the subscription season could hold, at that time. That's no longer the case, and they're touring, but at that time it was true. And so somebody got the idea that if you've already got one of the world's great orchestras prepaid, why not put on some shows that The Met would never do: therefore kind of a different form of operatic entertainment. And so, at that time...I think the last show that they did was Cosi fan tutte. I directed Le Coq d'or - that was recreated with the City Opera production (where I had assisted). They had done, before my time, Love for Three Oranges; I forgot what else. So it ran about six, seven years, I think.

Marc A. Scorca: So you did not start it; you worked for the company, but it had started...they'd just hired you...

David Bamberger: I wasn't living in Cleveland at that time. I moved to Cleveland in 75. I was brought in as a guest artist. Somebody had told somebody that the City Opera production of Coq d'or was so wonderful and they asked (Tito) Capobianco (who had directed it) to do it, and he said he couldn't do it, but he had this assistant who could do it. And interestingly enough, this was before the fire, but the City Opera wouldn't release the costumes if I recall correctly. So a whole new set of costumes was built by a local costume house and then - fade out some years later - City Opera wanted to revive this production, but it was after the warehouse fire. And it was a very, very highly stylized production. It was not, 'Russian'. It was very fairytale. And so they asked me if I would come back to restage it for City Opera. And I said, "Well, what are you using for costumes?" "Well, they've got some old Boris Godunov costumes that they thought they would use." I said, "No, that's not going to work,” but I was already in Cleveland at this point. It just so happens that 10 minutes from here, this complete set of costumes is sitting waiting for you, that you can rent. So that was how we were able to revive the show, both in New York and in Washington, DC with the original concept.

Marc A. Scorca: What an incredible journey. What I love about these conversations is the different names we pick up. And you mentioned you were assisting Tito Capobianco. And certainly if Tito were still alive, we'd want to interview him as one of our 50 interviews. Working with Tito and Tito's impact on American opera in those years in bringing theater to opera, what would you say was Tito's influence?

David Bamberger: Well, I guess the biggest, if you had to just pick one (which is not enough) would be the rebirth of baroque opera with Julius Caesar, which not only, of course became THE starring vehicle that put Beverly on the international map, but also showed the world that baroque opera was an artistically valid medium, even in the 20th century. The thing about Tito was that he was just able to deal with so many different styles. So whether it was the realism of a Tosca or the fantasy that he brought to Coq d'or or this just beauty for its own sake with the Julius Caesar and many others...the incredible prologue that he did for Mefistofele, which was virtually all projections and got a standing ovation from the audience every night. I didn't work on that alas, but I worked on most of his productions.

Marc A. Scorca: Really a groundbreaker and just some very, very important productions that got American opera on its feet.

David Bamberger: And we had Frank Corsaro at the same time. I was one of the few people at City Opera that got along really well with both of them, and both of them helped me in my career.

Marc A. Scorca: So Frank as well. And of course, Frank just passed a couple of years ago, well into his nineties, and another person who shaped American opera in those years of the 1960's.

David Bamberger: Yeah. Having both of them functioning in the same theater, at the same time, was pretty amazing.

Marc A. Scorca: Having known them both separately, I can only imagine what it would have been like to have them in the same building at the same time.

David Bamberger: We kept them apart. I got along really pretty much with everybody, but I was really the first person on the directing staff at City Opera that had come from a stage managerial/directorial background. So previously when choristers no longer wanted to be choristers, they were sort of used as assistants, which is all very well, but they didn't really have the technical skills to bring. So people liked me, because I knew what I was doing. So it was a really heavy time.

Marc A. Scorca: 1976: Cleveland Opera. So fill in a little bit, the gap between Lake Erie Opera Company. I heard you say that you moved to Ohio in 1972; to Cleveland in 1975, and you get there and a year later you're starting an opera company. So, how did this come to be?

David Bamberger: Well, I was brought to Ohio to run the opera program at Oberlin Conservatory and then one person who saw my work there and elsewhere - I mean, this is all a story that shouldn't happen, but I guess it's probably replicated in other companies - he had just been transferred by his business from Detroit and David DiChiera had just a couple of years before he started Michigan Opera Theater. And this gentleman, John Heavenrich didn't like the fact that he had suddenly been transferred to Cleveland and (it) didn't have an opera company. There was no equivalent of what David was doing. So he left a card for me saying if I was interested in starting an opera company, I should get to him. So ultimately he and Carola and I founded the company, and we had a few things missing. One was that none of us really knew Cleveland very well. I was from New York; Carola was from London and John was from Detroit. And none of us had any money. I was unemployed really (or slightly employed). I was no longer at Oberlin. And John was a corporate attorney, but not on the (high end) and so that seemed like the qualifications for starting an opera company! So...kind of a neat story. We started talking to each other in October and talking to people and everybody who said, "Opera company, great idea." Nobody was offering us a dime. And if we got to the next spring, it had gotten to the point where if we were going to go ahead, we were going to need to incorporate, because we needed to apply to the Ohio Arts Council for funding. And if we were going to incorporate, John was an attorney, so he could do the paperwork, but there was also a $25 incorporation fee. And even at that time, my wife and I could afford $25, but we felt that, by this time, this non-existent opera company had accumulated hundreds of dollars of debt to us from taking people out and having them say it was a great idea. And so we felt we really couldn't throw any more money after bad. And John said, "Well, if you guys are going to continue doing the work, I'll put up the $25." And that was the turning point because there's a Jewish story that when Moses raised his arms at the Red Sea, nothing happened. And that somebody by the name of Nahshon took the first step into the water and then the seas parted. In other words, that you have to have faith. You can't just wait for miracles to happen. And the fact that we could now go to people and say, "We are an opera company, and we are going to open in the fall, would you like to be part of it?" changed the whole dynamic from what had been said previously, namely "We'd like to start an opera company," and this is not to say that we were flooded with money. Our first season I put on Butterfly and Barber: two performances each in a junior high school auditorium. And our budget for the year was $45,000. So even then - that's a lot more money than it is today, but not much. But it all worked. We had sold out the first weekend of Butterfly before we opened, and we almost had sold out the Barber, which completely sold out at intermission of the first performance of Butterfly. So our first season was a big success and it went on from there. And 25 years later, we had a $7 million budget in order to put on The Three Tenors.

Marc A. Scorca: I'm fascinated by those people and the stories of those people who started the opera companies because, as we trace the history of opera in this country, the '60's and '70's were explosive years of cities that didn't have an opera company, finally having one. The Met went to a lot of places and introduced audiences to live opera. And yet here you are finding someone who is willing to risk $25; a first season of $45,000 - and I'll say that it's in a city with a world famous symphony orchestra; an embedded Metropolitan Opera tour. So you had to really just throw yourselves into it, hook, line, and sinker, with no fear; with just complete courage, confidence, foolishness. How do you start an opera company when you have the titanic Cleveland Orchestra, titanic Metropolitan Opera, and you want to start something new in that city? How did you do it?

David Bamberger: It just so happened - you've got to remember that this is a period where cities in general, around the United States, and certainly in Cleveland, in particular, were in very, very bad shape, and there had been the race riots of the '60's; the explosive growth of the suburbs and when we first moved to Cleveland, people literally bragged about how long it had been since they'd been downtown. Somebody said, "Well, I haven't been downtown in two years." "Two years? Well, I haven't been for four years, at least." So, The Cleveland Foundation, which is the first and still per capita the largest community foundation in the country, had viewed the arts as a way to bring people back to downtown. And there were these great movie palaces downtown that were in danger of being torn down. Long story, but the gist of it is that between The Cleveland Foundation and some other people who had already started the redevelopment process, the theaters were renovated and the State Theater in particular...Design people came to me and the head of the Cleveland Ballet, and The Cleveland Foundation said, "What do we need to have a world-class theater, that they'll never again be an attraction that doesn't want to stop in Cleveland in order to perform, because they don't have a facility they didn't want to perform in?" So we said, "What about cost and upkeep and maintenance?" They said, "That's not your problem. You tell us what we ought to have, and we'll see how close we can come." So we came pretty close. So the arts were - because we were the young opera company in town, even though we were this tiny little entity, we were what there was, and The Cleveland Foundation had sort of bet on me and the small people between us. And so, that was sort of our leverage to significant growth fairly quickly, because they were supporting us and the ballet and the two Equity theaters in town and the Symphony, of course...So there were a bunch of us that were used by people who loved the arts, but no one ever doubted that there was a community redevelopment purpose for using it for the arts, as well as the arts being developed for themselves and to broaden the spectrum within Cleveland.

Marc A. Scorca: And certainly the need for the arts as an engine of downtown vitality that hasn't diminished in all of these years: the importance of the arts to the development of the center of the city. It's so true.

David Bamberger: It's something that the suburbs can't offer. Suburbs can put on movie theaters, but they can't put on a national tour of Phantom of the Opera.

Marc A. Scorca: And there's something about the concentration of downtown that adds to the creative energy, whether it's restaurants and multiple venues that's finally happened in that wonderful complex. So you could have different activities on different nights, just filling downtown streets. The concentration matters.

David Bamberger: Sports were also brought in the Cleveland Cavaliers had been playing out in the Coliseum halfway between Cleveland and Akron. And the baseball stadium was falling apart. So all of that was, we got a new football stadium, a new baseball stadium, a new basketball arena. All these facilities were developed and succeeded totally. I mean, downtown Cleveland is a vibrant busy place these days.

Marc A. Scorca: Fascinating. You served on the OPERA America board in the 1980's, and at the time the board was only general directors of opera companies.

David Bamberger: Plus Michael Bronson from The Met.

Marc A. Scorca: Plus Michael Bronson. Michael Bronson's always somehow grandparented into these things. I should let him know that we're talking; he'll send his regards. What were the issues of the day? As these general directors sat around the table, talking about the state of opera and essentially what OPERA America can do about it, what were some of the big topics of the day when you were on the board?

David Bamberger: Well, the revolutionary topic that I recall is David DiChiera getting money to fund American opera. This was a debate as to whether that was a proper function of OPERA America and in effect using money for things which were not the direct support of the opera companies themselves. In retrospect, looking now (at) opera companies doing new operas all the time. And sometimes those being the hits of the season, as was true with us. It's hard to imagine the time that it was. It took a great deal of courage on David's part to say, "Listen, the money that I've got for this is not usable for anything else. It's earmarked. I'm not taking it away from any other programs. So let's give it a try and see what happens." And that was a big turning point in both OPERA America and in American opera.

Marc A. Scorca: And David DiChiera really just had this vision of what American opera should be, and that included new works that somehow speak to our times. I hadn't thought about it, how much you and David in a way had in common: two older cities, that were going to harness the energy of culture to restore the cities. You both started the companies at about the same time, (David, a little bit earlier than you in Cleveland). So over the years, did you, and he find a lot of camaraderie as you chartered a course through the work in Cleveland and in Detroit?

David Bamberger: Yes, and when we presented The Three Tenors where he was tremendously helpful - because he had done it a couple of years before. And so he was very, very helpful and I directed for him once, and David's sights were, for want of a better term, higher. I mean, he was interested in becoming president of OPERA America. I was not. And so he had a grander vision than I had; had a city with more money, and he, of course, was in the real estate business. I was lucky in that I was in a situation where the power in the city decided to make me a beautiful opera house, whereas David had to be connected with all the people that got him to be able to build an opera house. But I don't mean to suggest there was any hostility; we just had kind of different focuses. But, when we had occasion, we worked together very cordially and very helpfully, and he had a remarkable record.

Marc A. Scorca: You mentioned The Three Tenors a couple of times. And once again, as time passes: memory fades. When you brought them to Cleveland, was it just a phenomenon? Was it an amazing civic event?

David Bamberger: It was. In, I think, six months we raised $7 million, something like that, in ticket sales and in the various perks and benefits and parties and all that you had. And it was pretty great. The guys were fantastic. Placido (Domingo): he was superhuman. I don't know how he ever accomplished what he did. He flew from a Valkyrie rehearsal in London to us, and then had a rehearsal the next day and then there was a dinner for the big donors. And I had this terror that at some point, one of the tenors, (but Placido in particular because of this incredible schedule he was in) would just say, you know, "I can't do another party." I don't know what we have done then, but they were fabulous. They were just fabulous. And the audience loved them. The concert was great. The weather held. It was raining the morning of the concert, but gave way to lovely sunshine and the dinners were fabulous. The guys went everywhere they needed to go. When you talk about a once in a lifetime experience for people...

Marc A. Scorca: What was the venue where you did it in Cleveland?

David Bamberger: Cleveland Brown Stadium, (the football stadium).

Marc A. Scorca: Seating how many people?

David Bamberger: Well, we had about 30,000, I think, or 35. That obviously didn't fill up a football stadium, but it made a pretty good dent.

Marc A. Scorca: 30 or 35,000 people to see The Three Tenors in Cleveland. Unbelievable.

David Bamberger: All of them paying very, very, very substantial amounts of money.

Marc A. Scorca: It is a phenomenon. As I say, it's fading in our memories, but it was quite the thing at the time.

David Bamberger: And for any city to get them was a big deal. And there's a whole series of stories about that too, but the net of it was there weren't that many and we wanted them. And then we presented it as first part of Cleveland Opera's 25th anniversary.

Marc A. Scorca: You ended your illustrious career at the Cleveland Institute of Music, teaching young singers?

David Bamberger: That's not quite true. I directed when I came out here to California, and in fact I had contracts for two plays when the pandemic hit. I never used the 'R' word, but having said that, I think COVID took care of it.

Marc A. Scorca: When you moved from Ohio to California, your position in Ohio was Head of the Opera Program at the Cleveland Institute. And there you were working with young singers and in a way, you had worked with young singers nearly 50 years earlier at New York City Opera when you were first directing. What had changed? Were the aspirations the same? Was the preparation the same? Was the competition greater or lesser? What had changed in the life of the young singer over the 50 years of your work with them?

David Bamberger: Well, the big change was just the number of American opera companies, for which a young singer could aspire as part of a career in America. That's the biggie. When I was at the City Opera and Beverly Sills was becoming famous, the big news was that she was becoming famous without any European credentials. The given from which she broke the mold, was that you began your career however you could; you toured with Boris Goldovsky, but eventually, in order to cut your teeth and make a reputation, you would go to Europe; develop a reputation and then (when I was growing up, at least), eventually there was the City Opera, but there was The Met, San Francisco and Chicago, and that was basically it. And they were all star driven opera houses. So with this explosive growth in opera that we've been talking about in the '60's, such as Cleveland Opera, that whole dynamic had changed, and the welcome mat for American artists in Europe was no longer a thing. So the whole geographical possibility of a career had transformed. And then in addition, it was no longer a question about a performer having to be theatrical in order to have a career. Granted there have been a couple of exceptions whose voice has been so extraordinary for the repertoire they want to sing, that they are not necessarily Broadway casting, but certainly the overwhelming amount of opera production in America and the rehearsal process works on the assumption that the whole theatrical element is going to be, if not as key as the musical element, certainly an indispensable part of the operatic experience and the possibility of what that means in terms of interpretation, also from the stage director's point of view, it means you're not just a traffic cop using the drops that were available from Stevenilo, talking about a name way in the distant past.

Marc A. Scorca: David, through your career, were there mentors, role models, people you thought about in terms of: what would he do? What would she do? Were there some definite reference points in your career development?

David Bamberger: Working with Tito was the transformative one, although I must say at City Opera, there were some decidedly less inspired directors, so that I got to also think about how will I NOT do, which is very valuable. Not as much fun, but it did convince me there was a place for me in the business: if everybody you work with is a genius, that's not necessarily good for the ego.

Marc A. Scorca: Did Cleveland Opera co-produce with any companies on a regular basis? Did you have any company partners you'd like to work with?

David Bamberger: We did it on an irregular, ad hoc basis, OPERA America often being the conduit, getting people together. So for instance, we did Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men, and we did that as a coproduction with Utah Opera. We did two productions as part of the consortium that David Gockley (Houston Grand Opera) put together for international tours with Porgy and Bess. Of course we rented many productions such as the Julius Caesar production from City Opera. Sills was there, so I could rent that. So it was a very much trying to meld resources as best we could for the opportunity to put on particular works.

Marc A. Scorca: Well, thank you. I so appreciate this time with you just to hear about ...

David Bamberger: One thing: a very important part of what we did was: from the very, very, very, very first production, we believed in colorblind casting, which was just beginning to work toward the norm. But in addition to which, we were very involved in building non-traditional audiences. We got some money and invested a lot of time and money in what we call the Multicultural Awareness Program. And people would come to our opera house and say, "How is this possible?" There are young people, there are people of diverse color and backgrounds. And we were very proud of that aspect of what we did. Carola was very involved in access for physically challenged, long before it was a law. In fact, the people, who were redoing the theater for us, were not taking that very seriously and she got a group together of her colleagues from the disabled community and talked with them and plans were changed. And years later, one of the people from Playhouse Square from the theater called her up and said, "You know, I remember when you did that, but I was always busy thinking of disabilities as other people." And he said, "My girlfriend broke her leg and wanted to see whatever production and I realized that we were able to give her a really good seat because you made us do it."

Marc A. Scorca: What a wonderful affirmation that is. I can say, in my early years - I've known you and Carola for more than 30 years and in my early years at OPERA America, I remember the Multicultural Awareness Program very well and your excellent work in education for schools and for young people. You and Carola were very much touchpoints for me in my years because I felt that your work at Cleveland Opera at the time was real leadership work. And I'm just so pleased to have this chance to catch up a little bit with you and to reach farther back still into your recollections of City Opera; of Tito; of The Met tour. It's just great to hear from you and to have the honor of including you in our rogues gallery of 50 people, who've made such a difference in American opera.

David Bamberger: It's definitely an honor for me. And I'm grateful for this chance to chat with you and grateful to be a part of so much remarkable things that opera has done and OPERA America has done in the last 50 years.