Pete Lundberg Makes Connections Through Opera

Peter Lundberg with Chorus Teacher
Peter Lundberg with Chorus Teacher

(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

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Benjamin Taylor
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