For the Love of Opera

Photography by David N. Martin


If it were up to Dr. Beatriz Porras, a local dermatologist, people of all ages and from all walks of life would have an opportunity to attend an opera and experience its awe-inspiring magic.

As a member of the Cincinnati Opera Board of Trustees and an ardent opera lover, she wants to do everything she can to ensure the continued financial support of, and the increased accessibility to, this dynamic art form as well as to have new and future generations enjoy and love this magical art. Dr. Porras and her husband, Dr. Alvaro A. Ryes, were happy to host Cincinnati Opera’s major donor appreciation dinner at their spectacular Indian Hill home on June 20.

The special event was held five days after the opening of Cincinnati Opera’s 2017 Summer Festival at the Aronoff Center, which began with Puccini’s “La Bohème,” conducted by Louis Langrée, the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. “La Bohème” is considered one of the world’s most beloved operas. It takes place in 1830s Paris, telling the timeless, passionate story of penniless artists and lovers struggling to survive.

Close to 120 guests attended the French-themed dinner, enjoying wine and cocktails, tantalizing hors d’oeuvres, and an exquisite buffet of selections that included Nicoise salad, classic chicken cordon bleu, vegetarian quiche, au gratin potatoes, marinated roasted vegetables and petit croissants. Scrumptious desserts included fresh fruit kabobs, crème brulée, macarons and a variety of cheesecake bites. Some of the talented singers from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” another of the season’s operas, performed for guests.

Local muralist Andrea Frangiosa was the featured artist for the event, with 5 percent of her sales donated to Cincinnati Opera.

“The extreme beauty of the opera fills my heart with joy, and I want people of all ages to experience that same sense of joy,” says Dr. Porras. “Opera is one of the most complete art forms, it is a magical experience that everyone should have access to or at least have a chance to see. It’s never too late to develop an interest in the opera and become an opera lover.”

Sneja Tomassian, director of development for Cincinnati Opera, describes the annual dinner as one of Cincinnati Opera’s most important events. Individual donations make up the biggest segment of the Opera’s annual budget. The dinner is the Opera’s way of expressing its gratitude to generous donors.

“The arts bring beauty to our lives and provide food for thought in a way no other medium can,” says Tomassian. “We really believe that opera is for everyone, that it opens minds and changes lives. The people who significantly invest in Cincinnati Opera share this belief, and that is why they support our company in the way they do.”

One example of Cincinnati Opera’s “beyond mainstage” outreach is the Opera Express, a mobile opera theater delivering pop-up performances by truck in unexpected places since 2015. Opera lovers and those who have never experienced live opera board the truck to enjoy 15-minute shows. Funding for the Opera Express was provided through a grant from OPERA America.


Cincinnati Opera’s 2017 Summer Festival is presented at the Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.241.2742 or visit