I don't know if I have adequate adjectives to describe what a great evening it was Sunday when the Upper Ohio Valley Opera Guild kicked off the year with its first offering of the 2012 season - "Arias & A Touch of Broadway."
Suffice it to say I was moved, entertained and blown away by the Pittsburgh Opera performers who were enthusiastically received by the estimated 150 in attendance at the Steubenville Country Club, rightfully so with a standing ovation at the end.
Enjoying the entertainment
Even if you're not a fan of opera music, you would have almost certainly been won over by the performances of Pittsburgh Opera resident artists Stephanie Lauricella, mezzo-soprano; Juan Jose de Leon, tenor; and Kyle Oliver, baritone. Mark Trawka, masterfully at the piano, was a delight in his selection-to-selection explanations of the songs, including when the performers moved into their Broadway repertoire. One of the songs was "That's Amore" sung by you know who - Steubenville's own Dean Martin, duhh, - although Trawka sweetly feigned innocence in claiming he didn't know until the day before about this local conenction.
This opera guild event started a little later than usual with the social hour beginning at 7 p.m. I confessed earlier to Anita Jackson, event coordinator, that this was pert near pumpkin time for yours truly, but in the end it was well worth keeping the eyelids up and the ears open.
Better Half and I enjoyed our seating at Table No. 6 dubbed "Carlotta's Cuties" with Carlotta Jordan, a guild board member. We sat nearest to Pat and Linda Cipriani and Judy and Ralph Anastasia where the conversation ran the gamut from OK Bakery bread to horses to Catholic Central common denominators.
Better Half had a mini-reunion in seeing CCHS Class of 1961 peers Judy Gaynor, Rena Bolger and Aggie Monezis.
On the topic of horses, Joyce Ryan-Orlando, guild president, told me on authority that my horse Coffee had bitten me as a gesture of love, a claim quickly disputed by her longtime friend Dr. Susanne Curn-Escobar, who with her horse whisperer connections assured otherwise, especially when I mentioned Coffee's ears were pinned back a little at the time of this "display of affection."
And on the topic of Dean Martin, I reminded Judy Brancazio, also seated at our table, that we need to be mindful to do a story on the new Dean Martin room at the Jefferson County Historical Association Museum. She agreed. That will be fun to check out.
The evening included singing "Happy Birthday" to retired teacher Cicely Worthingon - her 86th birthday that day. She was sitting with fellow former teachers Mary Lou Coe, Barbara Jean Losey and Jan Primack, all of them members of Delta Kappa Gamma.
And happy anniversary wishes are in order for Steve and Marge Koslik of Steubenville, who recently celebrated their 60th and are a sweet couple I always enjoy running into at events.
The evening included the introduction of guild officers and board members. Aside from Ryan-Orlando and Jackson, other officers are Mary Jo Rinaldi, first vice president; Barb Wilinski, treasurer; and Josephine Irvine-Groves, secretary, who attended the event with her son, Shelly, and two granddaughters, Erica Irvine and Alexa Irvine.
Irvine-Groves also serves on the board of directors along with Kathy Antinone, Dottie Bossert, Lil Ferguson, Margaret Frederick, Christine Hargrave, Carlotta Jordan, Theresa Kropka, Lina and Joe Leonard, Laura Meeks, Liz Morelli, Amelio Saggio, Carlene Scurti and Nan Watzman.
The program book included an "In Memory" page devoted to the late William Croskey, who served on the board for many years and was a big supporter. His death on Jan. 14 caused the guild to "lose one of its stars."
Some of the proceeds from the event benefit the Upper Ohio Valley Scholarship Fund through which a $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually now. The recipient must be enrolled in a full-time music-related major and be at least of college sophomore status.
I wanted to mention, too, that George Creegan was the first president of the guild and was in attendance although I never did get around to his table to say "hello."
Next up for the guild is its summer event - Serendipity Cafe, a relaxed evening of "jazz and fun" on July 21 at the Steubenville Country Club. It will feature the Tony Campbell Quartet of the Pittsburgh area and local resident Teresa Kropka.
As the organization continues its 2012 mission to "build the guild," remember that an annual general membership is a mere $20 although there are also now membership divisions of $50, donor; $100, sponsor; and $200 or more, patron. Checks can be made payable to the Upper Ohio Valley Opera Guild and mailed to P.O. Box 2158, Wintersville, OH 43953.
For information about the guild, contact Ryan-Orlando at (740) 264-0292, or visit the Facebook page or website at www.uovog.org
See you at the Serendipity Cafe.