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Champions for opera in Baltimore

Allan and Claire Jensen's generous support sustains the Peabody Opera Theatre
Posted November 8, 2017

Opera has held a special mystique for Allan Jensen, MD (Med '68), A&S '65, since the first time he heard the aria "Musetta's Waltz" from Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme in the mid 1960s.

"I heard the music and I got goosebumps," says Jensen, an ophthalmologist and current vice-chair of the Peabody Institute's Advisory Board. "I'll go to a baseball game and then forget about it. But if you go to an opera, you will think about it for the rest of the week."

To share that feeling with more people, Jensen and his wife, Claire, have made annual gifts since 2006 to support the Peabody Opera Theatre and its two annual productions.

See the Peabody Opera Theatre present "L'esir d'amore" Nov. 15-18 at the Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall at the Peabody Institute

"Opera exists in Baltimore today largely because of the Jensens. Their contributions help the Peabody opera program bring in conductors, directors, and designers from all over the world so our students can learn from these great artists," says Samuel Mungo, managing director of the Peabody Opera Theatre. "To have them in the audience is an honor, and their attendance is so important to me."

As thanks, Peabody has given the Jensens a poster from each opera production they’ve supported, signed by the cast and framed for display. The posters/programs from recently staged operas, including "The Marriage of Figaro" and "Hansel and Gretel," hang in a special room in the Jensens' home, alongside their collection of vintage vinyl recordings by opera luminaries such as Enrico Caruso.

The Jensens' involvement with Peabody is just one way they support Hopkins. Allan Jensen once served on Hopkins' ophthalmology house staff and is an associate professor of ophthalmology emeritus. Both Jensens serve on the Wilmer Eye Institute's Board of Governors, and Claire Jensen was part of the Friends of Peabody group for several years. 

And their support of the Peabody Opera Theatre is just one way the Jensens support the Institute. The couple once purchased a Chevrolet SUV for Peabody to help transport students and their instruments, especially big ones like basses and harps, to performances. They frequently invite Peabody musicians and vocalists to perform for small audiences in their North Baltimore home, converting many of their friends into Peabody fans.

"Peabody is a jewel — you only need to go to one performance to appreciate the artistry," says Claire Jensen, whose grandfather introduced her to opera many years ago. "It's so much fun to be in the audience. The students are so supportive of each other."

Since 2000, a number of those students have received the Claire and Allan Jensen Endowed Scholarship for undergraduate vocal students. The award opens the conservatory's doors to aspiring opera singers who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it.

"I knew I needed support to pursue my opera career," says Lorenzo Zapata, a third-year Peabody voice student from North Carolina. "The Jensens are making my dream come true."

"The best thing about supporting Peabody is championing its future stars and, perhaps, future teachers," Allan Jensen says.

For more information about the Peabody Opera Theatre, or to make a gift, please contact Jessica Lunken, associate dean for development.