Tobin Foundation ceremony

Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts gives to UTSA

(Dec. 7, 2004)--The UTSA Department of Music received a gift of stage costumes, backdrops and music scores from the Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts at a ceremony Friday, Dec. 3 in the Buena Vista Theater at the UTSA Downtown Campus.

The donated items from the Tobin Foundation were used at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City from the 1950s through the early 1980s. Some of the donated costumes were modeled at the ceremony and music scores were on display from Met productions of "Barber of Seville," "Cosi Fan Tutte" and "Don Giovanni." Many of the costumes in last week's Holiday Madrigal Dinners were selected from those donated by the Tobin Foundation.

The donated costumes were designed by scene and costume designer Eugene Berman and constructed by Barbara Karinska (1886-1983), known as Madame Karinska, who designed in New York and Hollywood from the 1930s until her death at age 90. Considered a master costumer, she dressed operas, films, Broadway musicals and ice shows with elegance and glamour. She designed for 10 films and won a 1948 Academy Award for costume design for the film "Joan of Arc” starring Ingrid Bergman. In a career spanning 45 years, Karinska costumed productions of Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins and George Ballanchine, among many others, and was a favorite costumer of entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee. She is famous for designing the short ballet tutu as we know it, formerly long with multiple hoops.

The ceremony hosted by William McCrary, UTSA assistant professor of music, included remarks by UTSA Provost and Executive Vice President Guy Bailey, acknowledging Mel Weingart, Tobin Foundation for the Theatre Arts chairman and president; Robert Perdziola, renowned costume and scene designer and Tobin Foundation vice president; Linda Morgan Hardberger, Tobin Foundation trustee; and Jody Blake, curator for the Tobin Collection for the Theatre Arts at the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum.

Pictured are (top) Perdziola, Weingart, Hardberger, UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean Daniel Gelo, McCrary and Blake; (middle) UTSA Madrigal Singers in costume performing for the guests of honor; and (bottom) guests examine some of the elaborate costumes placed on display at the event.

Weingart, a close friend of the late Robert and Margaret Tobin, has worked with the Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts since 1999. Weingart studied voice at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School. He has performed with the Dallas Opera, Houston Opera, San Antonio Symphony and Metropolitan Opera.

Perdziola’s costumes and scenery have been featured in prominent opera productions across the country. In film, he was assistant art director for Woody Allen’s “Shadows and Fog” as well as “Meet Joe Black,” “Interview with the Vampire” and “The Age of Innocence.”

“On behalf of UTSA, I want to express our sincere thanks to the Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts for these invaluable gifts,” said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. “We are truly bringing the Met to San Antonio with these costumes, scores and backdrops which will be very inspiring to our students and appreciated by UTSA and the community.  I’m sure we will put them to good use for many years.”

The Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts supports theater design as a distinct art form. The Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum houses the vast library and theater arts collection of Robert L.B. and Margaret Batts Tobin, who were strong supporters of the McNay from its inception in 1954. The McNay’s Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts is widely recognized as one of the most comprehensive in America, containing texts, paintings, drawings, costumes and models related to theater history and design.

For more information about the Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts, contact Mel Weingart at (210) 227-6065.

--Tim Brownlee