Tara Glynn Colburn, a founding board member of the Los Angeles Opera and one of its major benefactors, died Friday May 23 of cancer in Geneva. She was 61.
Born Tarasenka Pankiv in Zagreb, Croatia, she grew up in an artistic family: Her grandfather was director of the Conservatory of Zagreb, and her mother was a concert pianist who began teaching her daughter to play at age 5.
Colburn and her mother fled after her father was imprisoned and killed by Communists. She later studied at Ursuline Convent in Germany. After living in Paris, she moved to Los Angeles and studied gem analysis and design.
She also made several trips to India to photograph tribal peoples and staged six exhibitions of her photographs in India and Europe; her photographic collection has been donated to UCLA.
She underwrote the recent production of “The Barber of Seville” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and was a co-sponsor of the production of “Madama Butterfly” planned for next season.
In addition to her support of L.A. Opera, she backed the Long Beach Opera and the Salzburg, Austria, Festival as a member of the board of the American Friends of Salzburg.
Although she spoke five languages, she championed translating opera texts into English and displaying them above the stage.
Married and divorced twice, she is survived by a son.
Donations can be made to the Tara Colburn Fund, 416 S. Arden Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90020; or to the Los Angeles Opera, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.