The "First Movement" Establishes the Themes for Today
Past President Irma Wachtler (1965-1967) recalls: "Back then we passionately paid in with our hands and feet. We went to schools and talked about teamwork because saying 'opera' might have scared them off. Opera requires a team of musicians, carpenters, electricians, hairdressers, costumers, and many others. We wanted them to be aware of all the production and performance opportunities and be inspired to get involved when they attended our rehearsals or shows."
First Candlelight Dinner invitation- President Norma M. Kindy
Candlelight Dinner, October 21, 1967 St. Paul Hilton, Minnesota Ballroom John and Elizabeth Baker, Chairman; Ray and Irma Wachtler, President.
1962 - The first "Candlelight Dinner" fundraiser is held in the St. Paul Hilton Hotel to provide tickets to student matinees. Entertainment is by the St. Paul Civic Opera artists, Concordia College Choral Club, Macalester College Pipe Band, and the Twin City Scottish Pipe Band. The Women's Opera Guild starts hosting popular "After Theater Buffets" at the Women's City Club of St. Paul for $4 per person. The Guild hosts dinners for the entire cast. During the 1960s, newspaper editors within 100 miles of St. Paul are hosted on opening nights in a highly successful effort to generate publicity.
1967 - Minneapolis Public Library partners to duplicate donated master recordings of performances from the Metropolitan Opera, NBC Symphony Orchestra and New York Phi I harmonic from WCCO-AM and make them available to the public. The project costs $700. These Master recordings remain in the Library archives.
First Lady Iantha LeVander writes: "I was delighted to learn of the gift which the Women's Guild has made to the Governor's Residence Garden Memorial for Vietnam Servicemen." Dec. 1, 1968.
1969 - Hansel and Gretel inspires gingerbread-themed events by the St. Paul Opera Guild. Clubs like North Oaks, Minnesota, University, Interlachen, and Wayzata are inspired to serve Humperdinck hamburgers, Witch's Broomstick fries and Black Forest sundaes. Young teen ticket-sellers parade in public places wearing paper dresses decorated with names of operas made by Irma Wachtler and Alice Fox. The Guild begins sponsoring lecture-recitals, like "History of Opera," featuring Virginia Hardin Olson, soprano.
Travel grants up to $175 are offered to educational groups, arts groups and nonprofits. A thank you from Mankato State College music student states: " ... as serious music students we feel a need for more such sharing of musical ideas." The membership of the 1960s includes a junior-Senior Council for young adults. On October 7, 1961, a newspaper photo promotes the first event of the season- a dinner at the Women's City Club preceding the final performance of Tasca. In 1967, 27,000 students attend Student Matinees of the St. Paul Civic Opera. The Guild's membership tea is the first public event at the newly decorated Governor's mansion, hosted by Mrs. Harold LeVander.