Eagle's Trace Resident Shares Her Love of the Opera with Others

By Jill Dutton
February 15, 2024
Residents of Eagle's Trace in West Houston form their own groups and clubs to match their interests and make new social connections.

When Beth Beissel heard that her favorite opera, Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, was opening at the Houston Grand Opera--not even 30 minutes from her apartment home at Eagle's Trace, an Erickson Senior Living community in West Houston, Tex.--she knew she had to attend.

But she didn't want to go alone.

"With a thousand new friends to choose from, I decided to let my husband Jim off the hook," recalls Beth, with a laugh. "I knew I'd find someone to go with me."

Beth mentioned the event to several of her neighbors, two of whom were just as excited to go--even though one had never been to the opera, and the other had never seen La Traviata.

"I came to the realization that there was a need for an on-campus introduction to the opera," she says. "So, I decided to create an opera club. The group has been meeting for over a year now!"

The club  has been a hit, welcoming a diverse group of residents.

"We have members who had never seen an opera, and then we have those who have been to the MET every month for the past 60 years," notes Beth. "Each person shares their talents with the group, which has been a big help. One member creates our email blasts, and others step up to present."

Gaining interest

As the club's events drew more interest, Beth was introduced to Ann Thompson, creator of a study guide series titled "Let's Go to the Opera." Thompson has been educating those interested in the opera since 1975, when she was asked by the Houston Grand Opera to create a lesson for schoolchildren.

"She knows so much about the opera," says Beth. "It's amazing."

Now, Thompson visits Eagle's Trace once a month to speak with opera club members.  

"During each session, she talks about the nuances of a specific opera for an hour, covering its history and background. She really brings it alive for residents," notes Beth. "I've learned a lot from her myself."

After Thompson introduces an opera, the full taped production (including subtitles) is played for interested club members the following day.

"It helps separate the introduction from the actual opera, as some productions can run from two to four hours," she says. "That's a lot of sitting!"

Worry-free living

Reflecting on her experience as the leader of the opera club, Beth says, "I've enjoyed the process so much. A lot of members tell me, 'I have looked forward to this all month' and 'The best thing I've done this month is listen to this DVD.'"

Although she's widely known as "The Opera Lady," Beth has made her mark on a number of other groups at Eagle's Trace.

Thanks to their maintenance-free apartment home, Beth and Jim have more time to dine with friends, travel, and get involved with the wine club and the entertainment committee on campus.

And as member of the Resident Life Committee, Beth helps organize clothing drives that benefit local charities and collect donations for the fire station nearby.

A rewarding retirement

With convenient cultural attractions and volunteer opportunities, Eagle's Trace residents like the Beissels have everything they need--on campus and nearby--to make the most of their worry-free retirement.

"I've received so much from living here," says Beth. "My efforts have enriched the lives of others. Being a contributor to my neighbors' happiness is rewarding."

To learn more about affordable, independent senior living at Eagle's Trace, request your free brochure to get the scoop on amenities, floor plans, and so much more.