It’s one of the favors many of us hate to ask for: “Hey there, would you mind picking me up at the airport? And at 11:30pm, since I’m coming in from Europe?”
This most needed and minimally glamorous task is one that Christine Miller and Gary Glaser have done on behalf of San Francisco Opera for more than 30 years. They have picked up countless artists from San Francisco International Airport over the years, and it is one of the many reasons why they are the recipients of the 2013 Spirit of the Opera Award, the highest honor the Opera bestows upon members of our community.
Christine and Gary have been involved with the Company for more than three decades. Since 1976, they have subscribed consistently to the Friday night series. Both recently retired: Chris from Stanford and Gary from Uniforce, and they moved to the City from Palo Alto, allowing themselves to devote more time to opera and other volunteer activities.
[Above: Christine and Gary biking through the streets of Paris.]
Christine and Gary wear many hats at San Francisco Opera and serve as true opera ambassadors in many ways. They routinely introduce novices to the operatic art form and refer new subscribers and donors to the Company. Loyal longtime Medallion Society members, they also regularly bring friends to the opera and actively solicit and encourage them to increase their level of support.
They are also “original” Bel Canto members and serve on the Bel Canto Legacy Giving Committee, encouraging opera lovers like themselves to leave San Francisco Opera in their estate plans.
[Above: Gary and Christine visiting the Rocky Mountains.]
And as previously mentioned, to the great delight of Artist Services Coordinator Valentina Simi, Chris and Gary are among our most dependable artist “chauffeurs.” For more than thirty years, they have retrieved artists when they arrive at San Francisco International Airport. Not only do Chris and Gary provide artists with basic transportation; they also extend a personal touch with artists when they first arrive, including grocery runs before they settle into their apartments.
Often, an artist will be required to report directly from the airport to the Costume Shop for a fitting if they are late arriving to the production. Volunteers at times will wait during the fittings, then transport them home afterwards.
Aside from transporting artists with their trustworthy SUV, Chris and Gary have also on occasion welcomed and aided the artists’ families and even pets as they settle into their sojourns in San Francisco. Valentina says of Christine and Gary, “they are always very cheerful and both have a great sense of humor. Best of all they LOVE the opera, so their support and assistance to me all these years has been truly priceless.”
[Above: Christine and Gary at the 2012 President's Dinner, which celebrates and thanks those donors who support us at the Intermezzo-level and higher.]
San Francisco Opera extends its heartfelt gratitude to Christine and Gary for everything they have done over the years and welcome them as new “Spirit of the Opera” members.