(Board member Pete Lundberg, reuniting with Eva after 45 years. Eva introduced Pete to the opera Carmen in 1971 in eighth-grade chorus class in Wausau.)
My first introduction to opera was in eighth grade in 1971. I was fortunate to have an amazing chorus teacher named Eva May Struckmeyer, who taught at Horace Mann Middle School in Wausau. I remember her entering one afternoon excitedly telling the class that the next month would be devoted to opera, and that we would study Carmen. (Imagine the collective groans from 14-year-olds!)
In a very short time, we were captivated by this masterpiece. We went through the entire libretto and score, and as a bonus for our hard work, she arranged for a school bus to take us to Minneapolis to attend the touring Metropolitan performance of Carmen. I still remember our bus rolling back into our sleepy town at 3am.
Fast forward 29 years. I had not seen an opera since my wonderful experience as a 14-year-old. John Thompson called and invited us to join us at their upcoming opera. “What are you doing?” I asked? As fate would have it, Carmen! We accepted his kind invitation, and it rekindled the magic, and I have never looked back.
A bonus side note: After more than 46 years with no contact, I decided to try to look up my eighth-grade chorus teacher to thank her. I found her in California, and wrote her a note, starting with “you probably won’t remember me, but…” Within a week, I received a phone call that started with, “Peter, of course, I remember you!” After several great phone calls, I was so thrilled to reunite with Eva, and to give her a lunch tour of Madison, our gallery and home, Overture and the Madison Opera offices. We still keep in touch.
While I have been enthralled by countless wonderful operas, many by our own beloved Madison Opera, Carmen will always hold a special place in my heart and remains my all-time.
-Pete Lundberg, April 2020