Volunteers nationwide perform extraordinary service in support of their opera guilds, leagues, companies and opera in general.   Opera Volunteers International itself created the BRAVO Award to pay tribute to individuals who make outstanding and unusual contributions in service to OVI.

OVI Board member and Resources Chair Rose Betty Williams asked, “What does your support group do to honor its volunteers”?

From Rose Betty Williams of the Austin Lyric Opera Guild:

Austin Opera Guild created its own Bravo Award in 1991 to thank guild volunteers for their extraordinary dedication, contributions and accomplishments. The Bravo Award is presented at Austin Lyric Opera Guild’s annual Spring Membership Party. The award can and has been given to more than one individual each year. The honorees are recognized at the Spring Membership Party, in Austin Lyric Opera Guild’s Membership Yearbook and in newsletters.

The award is not monetary. In the last two years, the award presented has come in the form of beautiful 10-inch high triangular-shaped heavy crystal pieces etched with the honorees’ names and placed on marble stands.

From Rebecca Bowne of the Opera League of Los Angeles:

The Opera League of Los Angeles holds an annual Volunteer Appreciation night to honor all the League volunteers who have served 20 hours or more during the year. There is a written program listing volunteers by categories of hours. The event features refreshments and an in-depth interview with a well known opera personality (usually one of the key singers in a production). The chair of each major volunteer area (Education, Boutique, Gatherings, Speaker’s Bureau, Artist Services, Cast Dinners) talks about major accomplishments for the year, with a computerized slide show, and all the volunteers from that area stand for applause.

Each year, different “goodie bags” are created for each volunteer; some years we have tee shirts, other years a special gift of an opener/knife, always with the League logo on it. In addition, there are opera posters, mugs, various gift items enclosed in the bag.

In years prior, we had a “overall volunteer of the year” or “key volunteer” in each major area, but this tended to focus on an individual instead of the accomplishments of the entire team of volunteers. From time to time as appropriate, special recognition also is given for outstanding service with an individual award and gift certificate.

Once a volunteer has worked 20 or more hours, they are given a permanent name badge with the Opera League logo. Each year, volunteers earning over 20 hours the prior year receive one dress rehearsal ticket, those with 21- 40 hours two tickets to one rehearsal, 41- 99 hours three tickets and over 100 hours two tickets to two dress rehearsals. The priority for selection among available operas and seating is determined by the number of hours worked.

In addition to the annual recognition evening, committee chairs have developed numerous special ways of recognizing volunteers. For Artist Services, there are awards related to opera for picking up a visiting artist in the middle of the night (Nessun dorma), carrying excessive baggage (Elektra – emotional baggage translating to real baggage), going to the airport (hell) twice in one day (Orfeo), and so forth, given with fanfare, a picture published on the web and an opera DVD or CD. At the Boutique, volunteers receive 25% off an item each time they volunteer, as well as an opportunity to see the opera in prime seats.

From Rhonda Sweeney of the Houston Grand Opera Guild:

Each year, the HGO Guild awards a Volunteer of the Year award to someone who has done a LOT for the Guild, generally not just that year but over several years.  A BRAVO award is given to someone who may not be a Guild member but is either on the HGO staff or in the community working hard on behalf of opera.

HGO Volunteer of the Year Wynne Mattison and Sue Elliot, Bravo Award winner

Volunteers of Distinction awards go to several Guild members who have contributed special talents. Rising Stars awards honor those new volunteers in their first or second years as volunteers at the Guild. These awardees are recognized at a brunch each Fall before the season opens, and in fact it is generally the first opera social event of the new season.

Get more information about the HGO Guild’s Awards on their website where all  honorees are listed.

From Shelly Page of Nashville Opera Guild:

Jane Bogel, Francis Robinson Award winner

Nashville Opera Guild doesn’t have a regularly scheduled volunteer recognition program.

However, every few years we have named a volunteer to receive the Francis Robinson Award at our big fund raiser, La Bella Notte.

June Bogel, a past president of the Guild and a member of the Nashville Opera Board was the last honoree. Three of our members have also been nominated by the Guild Board and the company to receive OVI Partners in Excellence Awards.

From Kristine Hill, President-elect of the Des Moines Metro Opera Guild Council:

The Des Moines Metro Opera Guild Council’s recognizes its volunteer honorees by putting their names on a plaque that is displayed in the lobby during the opera season.

Our most recent award winner is Dru McLuen, president of the Indianola Chapter of the Guild. For years Dru has been the “go to” Guild member. She sets up promotional displays at the local libraries, helps the office with mailings, and she helps coordinate volunteers for many Guild and company events.Read more about Des Moines Metro Opera Guild.

From Una Creditor, President of the Kansas City Lyric Opera Guild:

Since 1984 Kansas City Lyric Opera Guild has had a monetary award, funded by Dr. Revis Lewis and named the Revis Lewis Award in his honor. It is given at the Annual Meeting, held each year in June. The $100 award is presented to one or two Lyric Guild members who have served in an outstanding capacity.

In addition, the winners’ names are engraved on a plaque in our Guild Room at the theater. The award may be earned more than once. The selection is made by Dr. Lewis, usually in consultation with the President or other members of the Guild Board.

Dr. Lewis was one of the founders of the Guild, which had its first meeting in 1961 (We will celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2011). He served as president from 1975 to1977 and has been chairman of the board for many years. That position is defined in the by-laws as “senior advisor to the Board.” Dr. Lewis was the first KC Lyric Opera Guild recipient of the OVI Partners in Excellence Award.

Revis Lewis Award winners:

  • 1984 Sandi Darrow, Russell Patterson
  • 1985 Virginia Larimer, Lee Goodman
  • 1986 Alida Braden, Dr. Ken Mares
  • 1987 Hildegard Dutton
  • 1988 Robert Snapp, Don Dagenais
  • 1989 Theodore M. Kranitz
  • 1990 Jo Swanson
  • 1991 Bob Baughman
  • 1992 Lee Goodman, Sandi Simmons
  • 1993 Jerilyn Main, Darrell Tyree
  • 1994 Wilma Wilcox, Mary Lou Vest
  • 1995 Jacob May
  • 1996 Gail Berman, Lisa Sicola
  • 1997 Lee Egli
  • 1998 Lisa Sicola
  • 1999 Kim McHenry, Margaret Hommes, Jean Vann Stallings
  • 2000 Morton Creditor
  • 2001 Caroline French
  • 2002 Robert Baughman
  • 2003 Jack Rosenfield
  • 2004 Richard Byrum
  • 2005 Joan Wells
  • 2006 Don Dagenais
  • 2007 Barbara Decker
  • 2008 Jean Rosenfield, Larry Sullivan
  • 2009 Richard Preis, Richard Byrum
  • 2010 Sandi Simmons, Una Creditor

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