Penelope Vrachopoulos
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Penelope Vrachopoulos

Dr. Penelope Helen Vrachopoulos, 97, passed away at home after a brief illness on July 12 in Oakland, California. Born in New York City to Emmanuel and Theresa Vrachopoulos, she attended Queens College, Columbia University, and Stanford University where she received her doctorate in music. She taught at Cornish College of the Arts, SUNY Potsdam, and Washington State University.

Penny was a leading Gilbert & Sullivan director and conductor based in Bellevue, Washington where she founded and led the successful G&S musical repertory company The Peccadillo Players from 1972-2011. She conducted all 14 comic operas in the G&S canon and introduced Pacific North West audiences to many rarely performed works. She helped launch the careers of many outstanding performers including NY Met tenor Rob McPherson, Berlin Opera mezzo Julia Benzinger, Broadway star Megan Hilty, TV personality Mary Votava, and Hollywood actress Deidre Kilgore. Penny's daughter, Penelope Houston, followed in her musical footsteps with her punk rock group The Avengers as well as a solo career. Penny also founded The Bellevue Opera and chamber opera group the Eastside Lyric Theatre.

She is deeply mourned not only by her immediate family - Dr. Heidi Houston (John) of Los Angeles, Mark Houston (Kathy) of Chamonix, France, Penelope Houston (Steve) of Oakland, and granddaughter Laura Vidale of Los Angeles - but also by her huge extended "family" of cast, crew, and musicians whose lives she touched. Many of her productions have been posted by Friends of the Peccadillo Players online, as a tribute to the high quality of her talents. This strong body of work and her family are her most enduring legacies. No one can possibly take her place.

Her funeral services will be on July 22nd, Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, CA. A memorial will be held August 10th. In lieu of flowers, please donate to musicinschoolstoday.org.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on Jul. 21, 2019.
Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
July 14, 2020
My! A year without seeing Penny, breaks my heart! My continued condolences to her wonderful family.
Jim Ray
Friend
August 13, 2019
I sang roles in Gilbert & Sullivan shows at the earliest beginnings of the Peccadillo Players in Seattle, 1971 Pinafore, Sir Josepk, Next Year, Koko in Mikado, then Patience -Bunthorne, and on and on for perhaps 10 years. Penny encouraged me to sing, in which I had no confidence at the start. She made an enormous difference in my life as a musician, and performer. Previously I considered myself a brass player, tuba, trombone, baritone. I keep a great admiration and affection for Penny, and I say her 97 years were well lived.
Allan Rustad
July 21, 2019
Condolences to Penny's family over her loss. May she rest in peace.
Steven M. Duncan
July 21, 2019
Steven M. Duncan
July 21, 2019
Steven Duncan
July 21, 2019
Penny not only attracted star quality talent, she gave ordinary people and their families the opportunity to be part of professional-quality productions. She was an artistic treasure for Bellevue and Seattle.
jim Ray
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