Annual Opera Guild Soiree at Packard benefits Young Artists

Leah Harrison | Staff Writer

For the second time since they bought the Packard Manor in 2009, Robert and Sally Metzgar will open their home to the Chautauqua Opera Guild for their annual soiree benefiting the Chautauqua Opera program.

At 6 p.m. Sunday evening, Guild members who have donated funds at the benefactor level and above will gather for an elaborate supper and entertainment provided by the guest artists starring in Chautauqua Opera’s Manon Lescaut.

“This soiree is our most elegant event of the year,” said Barbara Turbessi, president of the Opera Guild. “We try to give a little bit back to the people who have given us so much. The people who give to the guild give very generously, and it’s a pleasure to have that kind of venue to entertain them.”

Chautauqua Opera’s Artistic and General Director Jay Lesenger will attend with the singers cast in the leading roles of their upcoming production. Barbara Shirvis, Robert Breault, Michael Chioldi and Kevin Glavin will sing their favorite opera arias, as well as some musical theater selections.

The proceeds from the soiree go to Young Artists Awards given at the end of the season. The award values are determined by how much money the guild raises. Last year, they included two $3,000 Apprentice Artist awards and Studio Artist awards at the values of $2,500, $2,000 and $1,000. Singers use the awards to fund voice coaching and lessons.

Other Opera Guild activities include Operalogues by Lesenger given prior to major operatic productions, pre-opera dinners at Intermezzo, opera education events for children, and a gala. The guild also supports “Artsongs in the Afternoon,” a series of recitals given at 4 p.m. on Thursdays in the Hall of Christ; gives to the Chautauqua Opera endowment fund; and helps maintain the dorm where singers stay.

Since acquiring Packard Manor, the Metzgars have made significant structural improvements to the almost 100-year-old home, built by William Dowd Packard in 1915. The house has 23 rooms and 14 bathrooms, including an indoor spa and sauna.

“We are happy to share our home with patrons of the opera,” Sally Metzgar said, “as it is such an integral part of the Chautauqua experience.”

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