In 2003, a retired opera singer from New York City, who was raised in Follansbee, West Virginia and graduated from Steubenville Catholic Central High School fulfilled a dream to bring opera to his home town. The retired impresario was Filippo DeStefano. He and his wife, Judith Lynn, also an opera singer, are music lovers who organized a group that produced Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Another Puccini opera, La Boehme, was held the following year.
Each of the operas were held at the Steubenville High School Auditorium and brought world-renowned artists for the leading roles, as well as classical conductors from Boston and the cologne in Argentina. With the help of Carolyn Glaub from the Center of Music and Art, local volunteers both young and old made up the chorus. They started four months prior to the event learning their parts. Musicians from the five area symphonies made up the orchestra. For many, especially the young vocalists, this was the first time they had experienced seeing and listening to an opera and now they could say they had actually sung in one.
In order to continue on this path, the small group began to take on more committee members and made plans for more events. They named themselves “The Upper Ohio Valley Opera Guild”. The first President was Dr. George Creegan who served from 2004-2006.
Today, the Guild has over 100 members and a full slate of officers and elected board members who strive to hold musical presentations about three times a year, as fundraisers and to bring a cultural music theater to the Ohio Valley.