Thursday, July 23, 2015

99 Years and 76 Rings: Verna Parino, 1916-2015

Terri Stuart of the Wagner Society of Northern California writes to the membership:
Dear Wagner Society Members, 
It is with profound sadness that I must inform the Society that our greatly beloved member, Verna Parino, died peacefully on Monday July 20th. It is hard to think about the Wagner Society without many wonderful memories of Verna, who was one of the founding members of the Wagner Society of Northern California and served as its President for many years. Verna had also been a member of the predecessor organization Wagner International Institute.  
Verna's interest in opera had beginnings similar to that of many people who were first exposed to opera with Met Opera radio broadcasts. For Verna that happened in Minneapolis where she grew up and went to college. Interestingly enough, Verna went to Minneapolis to see two Minnesota Concert Opera productions of "Legend of the Ring" a revised 4 hour version of Der Ring des Nibelungen in 2013. Verna sat in the front of the orchestra seat and when the artists bowed at the end of the performance, her dear friend tenor Jay Hunter Morris blew her a kiss. 
Verna Parino was not just a Wagnerian, she was also a hard-working member of the Marin Chapter of the San Francisco Opera Guild for many years. She also served as the Director of Preview Lectures for the San Francisco Opera Guild Chapters. Verna scoured the globe and invited scholars to visit the many Guild Chapters to lecture about the San Francisco Opera's performances each year. Along the way she befriended many scholars, authors, artists and singers. Nothing invigorated Verna more than sharing her love of music, opera and Wagner with others. Verna was especially fond of the late Monte Pederson a terrific bass-baritone and the winner of the very first Wagner Society Grant recipient. Verna saw Pederson give a many Wagner performances and especially his riveting Wotan at La Scala and Seattle and other Opera Houses. 
In her lifetime Verna had seen 76 Ring Performances - the last of which was in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2015. Verna witnessed Rings on 4 continents - the most unusual of which was in a Ring in Shanghai. I know many members have wonderful Ring stories about Verna. The most striking characteristic of Verna, for me, was that she always had interesting and positive comments about productions, conducting, singing and Wagner scholarship. No matter how unusual a particular regie theater production may have been, Verna could always manage to find something positive to say.
Her family will soon provide us with information about a memorial service for Verna and the Society will keep you posted about information as it becomes available.
I'm sad that she's gone, but there is a life well lived, a life very much to be celebrated as much as mourned. Ave atque vale, Verna Parino.


JSC said...

What a remarkable woman and amazing life she had. I want to be like Verna Parino when I grow up! Just a few weeks ago I was watching the preview vid for that Sofia Bulgaria Ring and was happy to see her in it when they survey audience members and get their reactions.

Anonymous said...

SFCV ran an article on this grand old lady several years ago.

Civic Center said...

A mutual friend of ours was commenting about a genre of music that attracted a particularly geriatric crowd, and he added, "The Wagner Society wins the prize, though, they make the Early Music people look positively youthful."