November 7, 2023

Donors are part of the team at CIM Opera Theater

A scene from CIM's Dialogues of the Carmelites production

Just as it takes a team to mount an opera, so does the art form require a multitude of supporters. 

Happily, on both fronts, CIM is well covered.  

Not only does CIM Opera Theater boast some of the finest student voices in the world and a new interim artistic director; it also enjoys some of the school’s most dedicated patrons.  

One of the most devoted of the latter is CIM Governing Member Michael Frank. A lifelong lover of music with a special passion for opera, he attends and supports CIM Opera Theater with gusto.S  

“I want to do my part to make sure the art form thrives,” said Frank, a former lawyer and physician. “My only disappointment is when I can only go see a production once.” 

Frank’s zeal for opera has only grown during the still-early tenure of interim artistic director JJ Hudson. For Hudson’s recent production of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, the former physician and attorney had nothing but praise, calling the work “nothing short of incredible...I think he’s going to be very good for the whole program.”  

Whether that prediction holds true largely hinges on CIM’s ability to incorporate the finest costume, stage, and lighting designs. Indeed, Hudson said, between CIM’s high artistic standards and the recent addition of a third, off-site production to the annual calendar, the need for underwriting is greater than ever.  

“In opera, it takes a lot of creative people to make the magic happen,” said Hudson. “Only with generous support can we showcase our fabulous CIM opera students in ways that showcase their enormous efforts.” 

But CIM needs support like Frank’s for more than lavish productions. To secure a bright future for opera, CIM must also attract and retain world-class student talent with scholarships.  

“To maintain the highest level of excellence at CIM Opera Theater, we need to be highly competitive in our financial support,” Hudson said.  

For proof of that statement, look no further than soprano Imani Severin, a second-year master’s degree student of Mary Schiller and one of CIM’s top operatic prospects.  

CIM was her top choice, but the clincher was the Mary Hamlin Memorial Presidential Scholarship, a gift of Dr. Clive and Jane Hamlin, which allowed her to attend without incurring debt.   

At CIM, “I can devote all my attention to my studies and perfecting my technique,” Severin said. “I give infinite gratitude [to the Hamlins] for making this possible.”