Young Patronesses of the Opera celebrate at Riviera Country Club

By Cristina Planas….

Pictured (l-r) are financial secretary Deborah Marks; treasurer Patricia Mederos; corresponding secretary Maria Nicklaus; recording secretary Debbie Hasty; vice president Kristin Podack and president Rebecca Spinale.

Lovely ladies and elegant decor were “par for the course” as the Young Patronesses of the Opera (YPO) recently celebrated a year of achievement and toasted to new beginnings at the Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables.

Founded in 1956, the prestigious organization supports opera education in South Florida and brings professional children’s opera performances to more than 35,000 elementary school students annually.

The YPO conducts its end of the year luncheon to install its new executive board, welcome new members, recognize an outstanding Miami-Dade County music teacher and give a generous donation to the Florida Grand Opera.

Appropriately themed “Opera on the Green,” this year’s event, accented by a palette of preppy pink and green décor, paid special tribute to the 2012 executive board, which was unveiled to include: president Rebecca Spinale; vice president Kristin Podack; recording secretary Debbie Hasty; corresponding secretary Maria Nicklaus; treasurer Patricia Mederos, and financial secretary Deborah Marks.

During the luncheon, outgoing president Lee Ann Schaffhausen reflected on the organization’s numerous accomplishments during the past year — most notably the organization’s continued education programs and the national voice competition which awarded almost $50,000 to aspiring young opera singers.

Schaffhausen presented Bob Heuer, Florida Grand Opera’s (FGO) general director and CEO, with a $60,000 check in support of FGO’s education and Young Artists programs.

YPO additionally honored Monica Harmon, a teacher at George Washington Carver Middle School, and presented her with this year’s Educator of Note Award, which honors outstanding music educators in Miami-Dade County schools.

This year’s provisional class includes: Gloria Babier, Ynoluz Bacalao, Kim Cook, Diane Cruz, Susan Feldman, Lauren Harrison Genovese, Maria Maloof, Libby Smith and Annette Toledano.

Spinale spoke about the group’s activities this upcoming year, including “The Magic of Broadway” Gala, to take place Nov. 5 at the JW Marriott Hotel on Brickell Avenue.

“We are excited for another successful year full of events that support the opera,” Spinale said. “I am thrilled to be overseeing the efforts of this outstanding group of women who do so much for the community.”

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