LSU Opera Receives Scholarship Gift from Baton Rouge Opera Guild

Baton Rouge Opera GuildBATON ROUGE – The Baton Rouge Opera Guild has presented a $30,000 gift for the ongoing support of student scholarships within the LSU Opera program, the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts announced.

Susan Leake, president, and Linn McNary, treasurer of the Baton Rouge Opera Guild, or BROG, presented Todd Queen, dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, with the gift in a meeting on Sept. 12. The funds will be used to maintain scholarships and assistantships for graduate students in the voice and opera area.

“BROG members know that LSU opera students are very special, as so many go on to have very successful careers,” Leake said. “Watching the students grow and improve year to year is a privilege, and it is satisfying to know [we] were able to help, even in a small way, young singers learn, grow and achieve their dreams.”

“We are so grateful to the Baton Rouge Opera Guild for their continued support of LSU Opera,” Queen said. “Their decades-long investment in our incredibly talented students has allowed many aspiring opera singers to come to LSU and study with our world-class faculty despite personal financial challenges. Thanks to BROG, we will be able to continue offering gifted vocalists scholarship dollars, allowing them to become the opera stars of tomorrow.”

Steve Valenzuela, a baritone from Watertown, Conn., is a second-year master’s student at LSU. Last April, he sang the role of Figaro in LSU Opera’s production of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro.”

“In my undergraduate program, I had to work 20 to 40 hours a week at an evening job an hour away. Having an assistantship is what allows me to really dig into my passions and learn and grow. I had similar opportunities at other universities, but I came to LSU because they do twice the number of productions and the faculty were so generous with their time when I came to audition,” Valenzuela said.

A fellow second-year graduate student who has benefited from financial assistance, Kevin Harvey, tenor, added, “Having somebody invest money in me specifically makes me feel wanted at this university. It motivates me to work harder and believe in myself and what I’m doing. LSU stands apart as a university that invests in their students and their potential through scholarship opportunities.”

The Baton Rouge Opera Guild will host its annual Fall Wine and Cheese event on Thursday, Nov. 2, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Walden Subdivision Club House, 1201 Thoreau Drive, Baton Rouge.

“The fall event is an opportunity to meet and mingle with opera lovers in the Greater Baton Rouge area. Sip wine, nibble on hors d'oeuvres, visit and enjoy a performance by outstanding LSU students. If you're a seasoned opera goer or someone who's just curious about opera, this is the event for you,” said Leake.

There is no charge for tickets. Kindly RSVP to Linn McNary at or 225-292-2945. To learn more about BROG, please visit

About LSU Opera
LSU Opera, one of the first major university programs in the United States, has produced exceptional singers who have sung on world opera stages such as the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and New York City Opera. LSU Opera annually produces two main stage productions, fully staged, designed, costumed, and accompanied by the LSU Symphony Orchestra, alongside smaller, staged shows and numerous outreach performance opportunities.




Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations              


Cullen Sadler
LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts