Yesterday (July 11 2013), I spent a lovely afternoon at the invitation of the local Wagner Society here in Santa Fe as they paid tribute, via slightly belated birthday party, to a long-time Patron of the Arts. Edgar Foster Daniels has been supporting the arts (with opera being his particular primary interest) for decades. He has given millions of dollars to arts organizations of local, regional, and national scope, as well as doing his part ON the stage (and screen) over his many years as an actor and performing artist.
A number of ‘arts-locals’ (including Bruce Donnell, LeRoy Lehr, and Joe Illick) gathered for lunch which was served in between acts of the Glyndebourne/David McVicar production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger starring Gerald Finley as Hans Sachs. This is a production which I myself just completed, along with a slew of wonderful colleagues, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago this past winter season. Armed with anecdotes from this production, as well as a rousing version of Happy Birthday which I was honored to lead, a great afternoon was had by all.
In my brief remarks, I mentioned that I met Mr. Daniels in 1996 at LOC when he sponsored a new production of Menotti’s The Consul. I have run into him regularly since then in Chicago, Washington D.C., Santa Fe, and New York City. Mr. Daniels, who turned 80 last month was in good spirits as we discussed the current state of the operatic world and my upcoming Wagner-related engagements thru 2018. Each guest, in fact, spent a respectful amount of time with him throughout the day. He loudly admonished the crowd at 3:00 p.m., asking us to stop the verbal tributes, because the last act of Meistersinger was a full two hours in length. We all laughed, took our seats, and watched a riveting final act; with special kudos going to Mr. Finley and Johannes Martin Kranzle (Sixtus Beckmesser) in this ever so detailed, and thought provoking production.
Many of my colleagues and I have actually earned a living because of Edgar Foster Daniels and others like him. Mr. Daniels knows the value of the arts, and realizes how vital they are to our society. As artists, it is ever important to put a quality product onto the stage; but just as important, is to acknowledge the generosity of those who allow us to ply our craft.
To you Mr. Daniels: Allow me to offer every expression of my esteem and gratitude!
And special thanks to Yoko Arthur and the Host Committee for Saluting a True ‘Arts Philanthropist’.
July 12, 2013