Donald and Donna Baumgartner make $1.5 million gift to the Florentine Opera

Donald and Donna Baumgartner make $1.5 million gift to the Florentine Opera
Gift will support the Studio Artist program

MILWAUKEE, Wis.—November 27, 2017— Donald and Donna Baumgartner, long-time donors and champions of the arts in Milwaukee, have made a $1.5 million gift to the Florentine Opera Company.

This gift will support the Company’s nationally recognized Studio Artist program, which is in its tenth season. Moving forward, it will be named The Donald and Donna Baumgartner Studio Artist Program, in recognition of their generosity.

The Baumgartners added, “We are thrilled to support this visionary program that Bill first introduced to Milwaukee in 2008! These vocalists are a hardworking select few who are enabled to both enrich their artistry and contribute much to the educational and cultural landscape in Milwaukee.”

Donald Baumgartner is a former member of the Board of Directors, and serves as a Life Director on the Florentine Opera board. The couple has been involved with the organization since 1991, and have frequently been the Presenting Sponsors of mainstage opera productions, including the Florentine’s recent production of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow.

“Donald and Donna have been champions of so many endeavors in our city, and the Florentine Opera is indeed blessed to be the beneficiaries of this wonderful gift.  The Company is thrilled to have its nationally recognized Studio Artist Program linked to two people who represent the very best of Milwaukee,” said the Florentine’s General Director, William Florescu.

The Donald and Donna Baumgartner Studio Artist program is a two-year program that provides training and gives important professional performance opportunities for four early-career singers. The singers are chosen from nation-wide auditions of more than 200 applicants. Studio Artists perform supporting roles in main stage opera productions, headline the Florentine’s @the Center Series concerts (at the company’s Wayne and Kristine Lueders Opera Center) and the Opera in the Schools tour, and perform in dozens of community engagement performances throughout Southeast Wisconsin. Additionally, they receive in-depth coaching from the Florentine’s General Director William Florescu and Chorusmaster and Associate Conductor Scott Stewart, as well as many visiting professionals from the field of opera. During their time with the company, the Baumgartner Studio Aritsts reside in the Kate and Don Wilson Casa di Opera, a residential home that is part of the Florentine’s Riverwest Opera Center campus. Studio Artist alumni have gone on to perform at major professional companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Lyric Opera in Chicago, and the Paris Opera.


For additional information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Eric Lind, by telephone at 414/291.5700 ext 221, or via email at

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