WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE

If not for a group of visionaries, opera might never have found a home in Dallas.

LAWRENCE KELLY: Legendary co-founder of the Dallas Civic Opera and the DCO’s first general manager. Before his untimely death in 1974. the charismatic Kelly persuaded international opera stars from Joan Sutherland to Jon Vick-ers to make their U.S. debuts in North Texas.

NICOLA RESCIGNO: The New York City-born maestro-his father played first trumpet in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra-came to Dallas in 1957 to help Lawrence Kelly found the DCO. He reigned as lord of the Fair Park Music Hall podium until 1990.

JUANITA AND HENRY I. MILLER JR.: The man whose name is synonymous with Dallas real estate co-founded the DCO and served as president for seven years. Miller was an Army man stationed in Hot Springs, Ark,, during World War II, when he met his future wife, a volunteer at an Army redistribution center. They married, settled in Dallas, and quickly became committed to giving the city what Mrs. Miller would later call an artistic heritage equal to that of “the great Eastern cities.”

PLATO KARAYANIS: The Dallas Opera’s general director grew up in Pittsburgh listening to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio. As a young man, Karayanis pursued a career as an operatic baritone. But the business side of opera beckoned more insistently. In 1977, Karayanis came to Dallas to serve as head of the Opera. He recently announced plans to step down at the end of the 1999/2000 season.

ELSA VON SEGGERN: The Dallas Opera s financial “godmother” was a trust-fund child from Nebraska who favored the struggling Dallas opera with both her considerable donations-more than $1 million over the years-and managerial expertise. She died at age 90 in 1995.

JOHN DAYTON: Pat of the wealthy Dayton family of Minneapolis, John Dayton quit a successful law practice in 1982 to enter the restaurant business with chef Stephan Pyles. Now, as chairman of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, Dayton U focused on organizing and financing the new performance spaces planned for the Dallas Arts District.

MARIA DALLAS: Tie “first lady” of opera inaugurated the Dallas Civic Opera on Nov. 21, 1957. Callas then helped put Dallas on the map of world opera with performances in La Travi-ata, Medea, and Lucia di Lammermoor. She died in 1977.

MICHAEL YEARGAN: As a boy growing up in Oak Cliff, Yeargan often accompanied his grandmother to the opera. Now, the resident designer at Yale Repertory Theater still makes time for his first love: designing elaborate, one-of-a-kind stages for 0|iera companies around the world, including The Dallas Opera.

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