« 'Unsilent Night' returns to Baltimore; public welcome to chime in | Main | Music we've been missing (part 15): Elliott Carter »

December 11, 2009

Cincinnati's symphony, opera, ballet to benefit from $85 million gift

Here's an eye-popping story, perfectly timed for the holiday spirit of giving:

My colleague Janelle Gelfand reports that Louise Dieterle Nippert, a 98-year-old arts patron and former soprano, has donated $85 million to a fund that will generate support for the city's cultural institutions -- to the tune of $75 for the Cincinnati Symphony, another $10 million for "the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Opera and the May Festival, with the stipulation that those organizations continue to use CSO players in their performances."


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Rich people in Baltimore, what are you waiting for? Yes, those other gifts you've been making are most appreciated by one and all, but they're just not in this league. When you get up to $85 million, you're starting to talk real money. Imagine what that could do here, could have done last year, say, before Baltimore Opera sunk beneath the waves. Oh well, no point in being jealous. Hats off to Mrs. Nippert.

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:24 AM | | Comments (5)


Bless Louise, and thank you, Tim, for calling the locals on the carpet while presenting some GOOD news for the arts community. I'd donate $85 mil if I had it. :) I'm very happy for Cincy.

a gift a third of that could have saved 30 full time jobs, and 100's of part time skilled labor positions at Baltimore opera not to mention build an endowment for the future.
So Many sad points in the story of the Baltimore Opera demise, but one of them most certainly has to be that a 54 year old cultural bastion that had little to no endowment to help defer seasonal costs. An organization that had almost no future financial planning. The things I have learned about how poorly that company was run by management and trustees are a sin.

Sadly at many institutions like many elected officials in Maryland, trustees have forgotten that they represent a "trust" to protect a public interest or private interest, and insure a future for that organization.

Amen, Tim. $85 million could keep the BSO from cutting to the bone, allow it to really grow instead of retreating from the leagues of major orchestras, and kept our opera afloat. Instead, no one gives much to speak of, the opera is gone, and the symphony struggles like a minor league organization.

God Bless her!

Having said that, this kind of one-time gift, however generous, does not represent a permanent solution to the budget worries of orchestras and opera companies nationwide.

But one more time, God Bless Louise Dieterle Nippert.

Amen. TIM

Wonderful gift indeed from Louise Nippert to the Cincinnati organizations. The gift unwittingly raises a big question on how to support such institutions financially, which for me was illustrated by a quote from a musician to this effect:

"It's great if someone gives our organization $1 million. But I think I'd be happier if a million people gave $1 each."

You see the point, about having a broad base of donors and supporters of the arts in a community, not just the big bucks folks.

Would be great to see a mass movement, but I fear the arts will always be dependent on those "big bucks folks." TIM

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
View the Artsmash blog

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
Famous faces in classical music
Sign up for FREE entertainment alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Most Recent Comments
Stay connected