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Students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Opera program presented “An Evening of Italian Romance,” serenading 136 guests at dinner tables and presenting a two-part musical program in ensembles Oct. 21 at the annual Friends of Opera Gala at the Lincoln Country Club.

“We’re doing something a little different tonight,” Dr. William Shomos, director of the UNL Opera program, explained prior to the program. “During dinner, the students will serenade the guests at their tables. Then, they will present an opera performance in two parts. Part one will feature traditional Italian opera music, and in part two, the students will perform selections from the lighter side of opera. The live auction will be between the two performances.”

Guests responded to the performances by contributing $27,349, most of which goes to scholarships for students who enroll in the UNL Opera program, said Jack Saltzman, gala chairperson. UNL Opera has received national and international honors in recent years, in part because of the generosity of Friends of Opera members who pay the costs so the students can compete, Saltzman said.

Auctioneer Tom Bassett presided over the live auction, which featured such items as a wine and chocolate party for 15 people at Saltzman’s home, a sandhill cranes package for four people led by nature photographer Michael Forsberg for two days at the Rowe sanctuary, a four-day getaway to a spacious Frisco, Colorado vacation home, and many more.

During the event, Shomos announced that Lincoln residents Jane and Francesco Ciotti, who formerly resided in Florence, Italy, will lead an Opera Tour of Northern Italy in October 2019 with the goal of raising $3,000 for UNL Friends of Opera. The tour offers events for opera lovers, harmoniously mixed with opportunities to explore the culinary, historic, artistic treasures and thriving artisan trades of the region. For details about the tour, see ItalianoForYou.com or call 402-432-2535.

For more about UNL Friends of Opera, see friendsofopera.org.

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