Cultural Sparkplugs in Oro Valley
The Opera Guild is proud to name this year’s top graduate student award in honor of Vivian and Robert Weede, Jr. They have brought music to thousands in our community.
Vivian and Robert have fate to thank for their opera and symphony activities in Southern Arizona. Vivian had sung Nedda in Pagliacci and Tatiana in Eugene Onegin for Seattle Opera when Glynn Ross was executive director; at the time of their move he held a similar position in Tucson. Soon the Weedes were active in OGSA; Vivian served as president; Robert serves on our advisory council.
Fate and coincidence entered their lives at other points as well. Robert spent the second year of his life in Milano, Italy, where his father, Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Weede, was studying. Vivian and Robert spent a year in Milano some 25 years later studying with Italian Maestro Franco Ferraris and greeting their first son, Bob.
Vivian started her theatrical career at age seven, appearing on Broadway with Fredric March in The American Way. Two decades later her father-in-law appeared as The Most Happy Fella, a most operatic musical by Frank Loesser, on Broadway.
During World War II Vivian did French language broadcasts overseas for the Office of War Information. She was later fated to sing operatic roles in French including Marguerite in Faust and Bizet’s Carmen. Prior to her début at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as Violetta, she sang “Sempre libera” as a showgirl at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe in New York.
Robert Sr. toured the South Pacific with violinist Isaac Stern in the first classical music venture to that war zone, and Robert Jr. led a project of re-warehousing on Guam after the war, and also entertained on troop ships.
Robert and Vivian sang leading roles together in Northern California in La traviata, Madama Butterfly, Die Fledermaus, Carmen and The Gypsy Baron. Vivian also did lead roles in Tosca, La Boheme, and Cavalleria Rusticana.
On retiring from a marketing and management career, Robert and Vivian moved to Southern Arizona where he and a friend, Dick Eggerding, founded The Greater Oro Valley Arts Council in 1997, producing jazz concerts, arts festivals and concerts by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra .
GOVAC grew to become the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, a presenter of over 150 events, including Opera 101 with Vivian as narrator. Robert and SAACA will present a benefit concert of the Tucson Repertoire Orchestra in May of 2015.
The Weedes continue to bring the magic of opera to new generations of opera lovers. In addition to OGSA’s previews, Vivian shares her musical knowledge with enrollees in lifelong learning classes. Vivian and Robert enjoy sharing their love of music and the arts with the citizens of Tucson. Sometimes fate lends a hand, but if it doesn’t, they find a way.