Donor Spotlight: Phil and Eleanor Straub

General and Artistic Director Clare Burovac with Phil and Eleanor Straub at the 2021 Legacy Gala for Maestro Robert Lyall.

Thank you, Phil and Eleanor!

Thank you for your decades-long commitment to fostering opera in New Orleans. We are grateful to you and appreciate your support.

When Phil and Eleanor Straub walked into Leverett House at Harvard University in 1967, neither had attended an opera before, but their first experience was a cementing one: Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, conducted by John Adams. They’ve been hooked on the art form ever since.  

After moving to New Orleans in the mid-70s from Washington DC, their introductions to the New Orleans Opera family were almost as disparate as their personality types. Eleanor, notably shier and more soft-spoken in her interactions, became actively involved in the Women’s Guild, joining the Junior Committee at the recommendation of a fellow congregant at their church. It was an instant community and helped the young couple forge friendships in their new home.  A few years later, Phil joined the Men’s Club and also worked with Eleanor to coordinate the auctions for the Guild’s annual fundraisers.  His more jocular personality easily parlayed into a series of on-stage appearances. It started with one fateful Opera Ball, when he placed the winning bid for an auctioned supernumerary role in an upcoming production. Since then, he has gone on to participate as a NOOA supernumerary more than 35 times. “It was through those experiences that I learned what the opera was like both inside and out,” Straub said, and added, “I specialize in carrying off dead sopranos…and I’ve also been slain twice on stage by two of the best baritones in the world: Mark Rucker as Macbeth and Greer Grimsley as Sweeny Todd.”  

Phil and Eleanor travel frequently to see opera in other locations. For the past 20 years they have gone to Santa Fe in late July/early August to see five operas at a time. While helping to organize the local National Auditions for the Metropolitan Opera, they also traveled to New York City once or twice a year. They are subscribers of Houston Grand Opera and have made trips to St. Louis, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Dallas for specific performances. “Our biggest thrills have been going to Houston to see Dead Man Walking and to St. Louis to see the world premiere of Champion,” they said.  

When asked what they had liked most about New Orleans Opera’s 2021-2022 season, the Straubs stated they most appreciated the return to the Mahalia Jackson Theater, including the creative presentation of Wagner’s Die Walküre as well as the Gala Concert. “And,” they added, “La bohème (in April) was one of the best we have ever seen. We are especially looking forward to the upcoming production of Madame Butterfly (March 2023) with Bryan Hymel as Pinkerton.”  

It is easy to sense the passion and commitment that the Straubs bring to each experience with New Orleans Opera since they first became season subscribers in the 1970s. From their social participation in the Women’s Guild and Opera Club, to their leadership as Board Members, and to their financial commitment as Mastersigners, we are deeply grateful for their interest in the Association’s perpetuation and success. Thank you, Phil and Eleanor, for your support!