Top 2014 Award Hails Their Achievements
The Opera Guild is proud to name this year’s top graduate student award in honor of Suzanne and Richard Clark, whose lives have intertwined with the Guild since its founding. Their stories illustrate what the Guild is all about.
No one has a better pedigree as a Tusconan or as an opera singer than Richard Clark. He is descended from several of the pioneer Hispanic families known as tucsonenses, a seventh-generation ancestor having been a Spanish soldier at the Presidio in 1775. A dramatic baritone, Richard sang 192 performances at the Metropolitan Opera spanning ten years, including 20 radio broadcasts and four telecasts. He also appeared with opera companies around the country and around the world, including, of course, Arizona Opera.
His roles included the meat of the Verdi baritone repertoire—Rigoletto, Nabucco, Germont in Traviata, Count di Luna in Trovatore, Amonasro in Aïda, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, Paolo in Simon Boccanegra—as well as Scarpia in Tosca, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Tonio in Pagliacci, and many more.
He credits the Opera Guild and our first president, Ruth Booth, with starting him on his road to success. In our first year, 1958, an OGSA grant enabled Richard to continue studying at the University of Arizona after a bad knee ended his football scholarship. After further musical studies and three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, OGSA again gave Richard an assist, enabling him to attend the Merola Opera Training Program at the San Francisco Opera. His success there earned him a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. There he met Suzanne, and, smart man that he is, he married her the next year.
Suzanne, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a graduate of Marquette University, and also attended the University of Paris and the Juilliard School. She sang with the Young Artist Program at the Santa Fe Opera and at the Central City Opera.
In 1981, with Richard’s career booming, they moved to his home town, where Suzanne became development director and, later, business manager, of Arizona Opera. In time Suzanne became active in the Opera Guild, serving on our Board. Notably, she founded Quest for the Best and served as chairman for the first three years. She remains active on the Tucson music scene, having served on the UA School of Music’s Music Advisory Board, and is in her twenty-second year in residential real estate.