Monday, Nov 20, 2017
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Barbara Hendel

A first-class preview of Toledo Opera's season

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    Susan and Allan Block welcome quests to their home, Thursday, August 24.

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    Allan and Susan Block at their home, Thursday, August 24.

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    Jay and Trina Secor at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Tim Hanson, left, with Melissa and Bo Freeman at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Louise Schlatter and Barbara Schlatter at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    John and Mary Fedderke at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Fran and Dick Anderson enjoy the party at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday.

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    Carol Bentley and daughter Kate MacPherson at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Maureen Brown, left, Suzanne Rorick and Allan Block welcome guests to the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Guests enjoy the party at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Hedva and Buz Romanoff at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Maureen Brown and Kelly Kotchetov at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Joel and Clare Gorski at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Joe Conda, left, Joyce Shultz and Jim Euting at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Gene, left, and Rusty Phlegar with Ed Conn, center, at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Table setting at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24, 2017

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    Titi Kakissis, left, with Bruce and Marina Lung at the home of Susan and Allan Block, Thursday, August 24.

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    Opera singers Moises Salazar, left, and Michael Colman perform during a preview party at the home of Allan and Susan Block.Blade photo by Barbara Hendel

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    From left, Mary Merrick, opera singer Michael Colman, and Hollis Merrick during a preview party at the home of Allan and Susan Block.

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    Opera singers Moises Salazar, left, and Michael Colman perform during a preview party at the home of Allan and Susan Block.

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    Suzanne Rorick, executive director, Toledo Opera, speaks during a preview party at the home of Allan and Susan Block.

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    Jody Webb, left, and Hanna Kynard sat down to dinner together Saturday, July 22, 2017, at Bar 145 in Toledo.

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    Howie and Jenn Scally sat down to dinner together Saturday, July 22, 2017, at Shorty's True American Roadhouse in Toledo.

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    The patio is a popular spot for diners Saturday, July 22, 2017, at Shorty's True American Roadhouse in Toledo.

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    Patrons enjoy the patio at Ciao! Ristorante in Sylvania, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

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    Alexis Heldt, of Sylvania, Ohio, left, and Ben Wagner, of Bowling Green, Ohio, on the patio at Ciao! Ristorante in Sylvania, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

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    From left, W.L. Emery, Don Yerks and Ellen Yerks, all of Sylvania, Ohio, on the patio at Ciao! Ristorante in Sylvania, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

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    The patio at Stella's Restaurant and Bar in Perrysburg, Ohio, on Wednesday, July 19, 2017.

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    From back, Nancy Russell, of Seattle, Carrie Russell Hartman, of Maumee, Ohio, and Steve Hartman, of Maumee, Ohio, on the patio at El Vaquero on The Docks in Toledo on Tuesday, July 18.

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    One of the two patio areas at Swig in Perrysburg, Ohio, on Wednesday, July 19.

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    From left, Janis Weaver, of Toledo, Jill lane, of Toledo, Nancy Starr of Holland, Ohio, and Rachel Osnowitz (cq), of Sylvania, Ohio, on the patio at Ciao! Ristorante in Sylvania, Ohio, on Tuesday, July 25.

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    From left, Chris McVicker, of Perrysburg, Ohio, Todd Wilson, of Rossford, Ohio, and Aaron Kreyger, of Monroe, Mich., on the patio at Swig in Perrysburg, Ohio, on Wednesday, July 19.

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    Patrons enjoy the patio areas at restaurants on The Docks in Toledo on Tuesday, July 18.

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    People eat, drink and listen to music on the patio at Manhattan's Pub 'N Cheer in Toledo on Saturday, July 22, 2017.

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    The patio at Ziggy Zoomba is pictured Wednesday, July 19.

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BEAUTIFUL voices filled the night air, wooing the 80 guests at the Toledo Opera’s third annual Season Sampler. The taste of what’s in store was at the home of Susan and Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications Inc., parent company of The Blade.

Cocktails and canapes were served on the newly remodeled terrace by the pool as Michael Colman, baritone, sang the Wolf’s aria from the Opera On Wheels production of Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, which will be performed in area schools.

Moises Salazar, tenor, sang “La Donna e Mobile” from Rigoletto, the Toledo’s second opera of the season.

The finale was the two spectacular voices singing “Au Fond du Temple Saint” from the first opera of the local season The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet, who wrote Carmen. The opera is set in an exotic land with gorgeous singing, sensuous dancing, and sumptuous sets and costumes, said Suzanne Rorick, executive director of the Toledo Opera Association. The enchanting production is conducted by John Baril, directed by Bernard Uzan, and choreographed by Ballet Theatre of Toledo’s Nigel Burgoine.

The third and final production of the season is the world premiere of Douglas Tappin’s I Dream, which was created for Toledo.

Joel Gorski — whose family gave a $1 million matching grant through the Lucille F. Gorski Opera Endowment in honor of his late mother, who loved the opera and was a staunch supporter — was pleased to announce the donated funds are in the final stages, but every dollar helps.

The evening continued with dinner indoors at long banquet tables where guests gabbed as they feasted on watermelon and feta salad with mint, grilled chicken breast, orzo antipasto salad, and fresh sliced tomatoes and avocados. Fresh peach short cake finished the meal, which was started with smoked salmon profiteroles, Tantara Farm truffled deviled eggs, and Caprese skewers.

Maureen Brown, new president of the Toledo Opera board of directors, and Kelly Kotchetov, new president of the Opera Guild, mingled with the guests.

Among the posh were Bob and Sue Savage, Dick and Fran Anderson, Carol Bentley and daughter and son-in-law Kate and Scot MacPherson, Trina and Jay Secor, Bob Billstein and daughter Barbara, Joseph Conda and daughter Susan Conda, John and Mary Fedderke, Melissa and Bo Freeman, Barbara Brown, Richard and Shirley Joseph, Randy and Barb Oostra, Drs. Hollis Merrick and Mary Smith, Tim Hanson, Brian and Marcy McMahon, and Gene and Rusty Phlegar.

AL FRESCO dining will soon come to an end for the season, so be sure to visit area restaurant patios while the weather permits. There are endless options, as everywhere you go in the Toledo area there’s a place to enjoy the beautiful weather while sipping a beverage and nibbling a bite or two.

On the waterfront scene, the newest is the Heights at the Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel with a bird’s-eye view of downtown Toledo and the Maumee River. Across the river, the restaurants at the Docks at International Park is another option, with the newest one, Pier 7, slated to open soon. Other options include LaRoe’s Restaurant in Grand Rapids, Ohio, overlooking the Maumee River, Webber’s Waterfront Restaurant and the River Cafe & Marina on the Ottawa River in Erie Township, Mich., and Chez Francois on the Vermilion River in Vermilion, Ohio. And the Lake Erie islands, including Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island, and Middle Bass Island, are only a ferry boat ride away.

Landlubbers’ opportunities are endless for outdoor dining. Motor to Mon Ami Restaurant and Historic Winery on Catawba Island, or closer to home there's everything from Cousino's Steakhouse in Oregon to the Mail Pouch Saloon in Haskins, Ohio. Perrysburg’s historic uptown area and Levis Commons are both loaded with restaurants that offer outdoor dining. Ditto for Waterville and Sylvania; just take a drive on the main drags and you will have a hard time choosing from them all. Element 112 in Sylvania is a great example. In the downtown Toledo area, just drive around or park and stroll around the Hensville area. The options are plentiful.

Mexican restaurants Ventura’s, Loma Linda, and San Marco's have great patios, too, as do La Scola Italian Grill on Airport Highway, Mancy's Bluewater Grille on Dussel Drive, Rosie’s Italian Grille on North McCord Road, and Bar 145, Ciao! Ristorante, and Shorty’s True American Roadhouse on Monroe Street.

Wherever you venture for your al fresco experience, do it before the snow flies!

Contact Barbara Hendel at bhendel@theblade.com or 419-724-6124.

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