« Glass Mind Theatre secures new venue for start of season | Main | Baltimore Symphony celebrates American music in season-opener »

September 21, 2012

Modell Lyric announces $1 million pledge from Berman Foundation to support opera

Six weeks before the opening of Lyric Opera Baltimore's second season, the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric announced a $1 million pledge in support of opera from the Baltimore-based Sandra and Malcolm Berman Charitable Foundation, Inc.

"It is one of the largest gifts in the Modell Lyric's history," said Sandy Richmond, president and executive director of the center. "We're thrilled to receive it.

"This is a four-year commitment that started last season. We are announcing it now in conjunction with Lyric Opera Baltimore's grand production of 'La Boheme,'" Richmond said.

Performances are Nov. 2 and 4.The season continues with a gala concert in April and a production of "Rigoletto" in May.

The Berman gift, which will help underwrite a grand opera production each season, as well as support opera education programs and capital improvements, has been acknowledged inside the Modell Lyric with the naming of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Grand Foyer.

The Bermans were subscribers for several years to the old Baltimore Opera Company, which folded in 2009.

"When that happened, we wanted to do whatever we could to help opera come back to Baltimore," said Sandra Berman, who is a member of the Lyric Opera Foundation board of trustees.

"We support a lot of other things, too, but we think that opera is extremely important in Baltimore. People shouldn't have to go to Washington or New York for opera. They should have top quality opera right here," Berman said.

When Lyric Opera Baltimore emerged as part of the Modell Lyric, the Bermans attended the company's 2011-2012 inaugural season of "La Traviata," The Marriage of Figaro" and "Faust."

"We thought the productions were ...

great," Berman said. At the end of that first season, the Bermans made the first installment of the $1 million pledge to support the new company.

"This is something Malcolm and I want to help and to keep going as long as we can," Berman said. "When I talk to people in the community, they're very excited about having opera here. People love the opera, they really do. And it is important to expose the young people to it."

In addition to supporting staged opera and more capital improvements to the recently renovated Modell Lyric, the Berman gift will be used to enhance outreach programs in schools, a summer opera camp and more.

"We hope the Berman's gift will attract other opera lovers and donors to the Modell Lyric," Richmond said.


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:53 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, Opera


Where is the story about the Baltimore Sun's opening subscription concert from Thursday night? You had time to redo and expand slightly on a PR release concerning the opera, but not to write a critique of a live performance?

Feel free to contact my editor.TS

Thanks to the Bermans for this gift. But I am still trying to understand what happened to the former Baltimore Opera Company. There is money in the Baltimore community that might have allowed the former Baltimore Opera Company to restructure and emerge from bankruptcy. But the former Company was allowed to liquidate with the loss of decades of historical artifacts and information. What really happened?

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