Since 1994-95, Opera Volunteers International has honored over 100 individuals and support groups who have made outstanding contributions to their opera companies and to their communities. Partners in Excellence recognition also may be extended to support groups to recognize an important milestone or achievement.  Recipients of a Partners in Excellence Award are recognized for their achievements at a meeting of the membership at an OVI Conference, and in OVI’s various publications.

Each Partner in Excellence has been recommended, in writing, by the president of an OVI Support Group member; two additional letters of recommendation are required from senior, appropriate, involved persons who are familiar with the person or organization being nominated (eg, opera company general director or board president, music school department head, school district superintendent.)

The deadline for application is February 1.   Click here for the Partners in Excellence Nomination Form for 2019.

2018 Partners in Excellence


Julie has been a member of the Cincinnati Opera Guild for over 15 years, most recently serving as Membership Co-chair.  She has actively recruited members to the guild, made new members feelwelcome, and made certain that long-time members are recognized for their service.  Julie is an enthusiastic participant of Meet and Greets, a program that welcomes cast members to Cincinnati.


Dr. Borgstedt has been instrumental in initiating many of the Opera Guild of Rochester’s programs and events. In her long association with the guild, 17 years of which she served as its president, she coordinated the Annual Recital for Donors which presents up and coming young artists, began a program of lectures in local libraries, began the monthly newsletter and was an initiator of the Guild’s donation of the use of a grand piano to the Lyric Theater.  Now in her 86th year she is chair of the Traditional Events Committee.


Abby Gibson has been a member of the Glimmerglass Opera Guild for over 20 years during which time she has served as chair of the Education Committee, has worked with company members to deliver in-school educational programs, and with a volunteer colleague presents lectures prior to the  Metropolitan Opera Live HD programs.  Abby has contributed more than 200 hours of volunteer work every year.


In the California Central Valley city of Stockton, an economically challenged community with no permanent opera company, the opera spirit remains vital. This is due in large part to Beverly Fitch McCarthy who, along with eight other women, founded the fundraising arm of the Stockton Opera Association, the Opera Guild. Since 19775 Beverly has served several terms as president, chaired the guild’s scholarship competition, written by-laws, created and chaired fundraisers and played a major part in raising close to half a million dollars to present more than 50 operas. As with all her other community activities, Beverly continues to work tirelessly and enthusiastically to keep opera alive in Stockton.


David Ryan is above all else an opera lover. He attends and supports every opera company in the Washington, DC, area. But it is with Opera NOVA that he has volunteered his time and prodigious computer and data analysis skills in countless ways. David created systems for managing and analyzing financial data, wrote and sent press releases, managed musical instrument donations, helped with grant applications and is Opera NOVA’s tech specialist.

David has been a volunteer with OPERA America and with Washington National Opera. With Opera NOVA he has served as Chair of the Board, Treasurer and Admin Officer – he frequently volunteers up to 30 hours each week.


 The volunteers of the Muskoka Opera Festival Committee have, since 2010, brought the opera experience to the Town of Bracebridge in Ontario, Canada. The Opera Festival Committee has been committed to ensuring that anyone who attends one of the festival events has an outstanding experience. Volunteers have raised donations and sponsorships; sold advertising space in the program; hosted performers and organized other accommodations; distributed posters, flyers and road signs; organized the opening night cafe and music; ushered; arranged the opening night dinner for performers and assisted them on performance nights; and much more.

Festivals and events are not only economic generators for the Town of Bracebridge, but also promote cultural well-being. The Muskoka Opera Festival and its amazing volunteers are an important part of this.

Click here for previous Partners in Excellence awardees.