To Market, To Market!

Our second mainstage opera of Season 12, The Magic Flute, is underway! Our fabulous artists have finally arrived in St. Pete (after several cast members were delayed by the bleak NE winter weather), and after hearing them I know this is going to be a spectacular production full of magic and mayhem! In addition to our terrific principal cast, our Emerging Artists boast beautiful voices, great stage presence, and an impressive array of credentials for singers early in their performing careers. This past Saturday, they took to the stage at the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market to tout their talents, to the delight of many a marketer.

Megan Brunning (left photo below), covering the role of the Queen of the Night, has already performed the role more than 4 times in her young career. She sang "der hölle rache kocht in meinem herzen," known as the "rage aria" with a vengeance, and warmed the cold Florida crowd right up! Bass Andrew Potter is tall as he is talented, and performed a riveting rendition of "Stars" from Les Misérables, among others. St. Pete native Courtney Elvira, singing the role of Third Spirit in The Magic Flute, performed a gorgeous rendition of Evita's "Don't Cry for me Argentina," and Tenor Andy Zimmermann's high notes echoed splendidly through the breezy morning air.

My favorite thing about Saturday Market (other than the amazing produce, delicious local goodies, and plethora of happy dogs) is that you never know what you're going to see & hear on the stage! We shared the space with the Empty Hats, a fantastic Celtic group who also provided some magic flute playing! And when our singers start up, there are people of all ages and all walks of life who discover that they do, in fact, love opera!

Cocktails with the Maestro - education for everyone!

We love that we are able to bring opera to Tampa Bay. And we want to reach EVERYONE in Tampa Bay! I've had SO many people come up to me recently to tell me that they never knew they loved opera, but then they heard us at Saturday Morning Market, or at the Hollander Tap Room, or any number of public spaces. We'll be outside at the SunDial next week. You name the place, we'll bring the opera! 

One way we've been able to bring operatic joy to people is through our Maestro Series, which began with select Evenings with the Maestro performances in the back of The Music Gallery piano shop in Clearwater. The Series has expanded significantly throughout the years to include a tremendously successful Mornings with the Maestro at the MFA in St. Pete and select Afternoons with the Maestro in various senior living facilities and churches.

These 90-minute, fun and educational programs feature great singing performances and a chance to meet our artists, have been so instrumental in allowing people to learn that they truly love and appreciate opera that we identified the need to reach an even greater demographic. Hence, this season we added an Afternoon series at Peace Memorial Church in Clearwater, and a Cocktails with the Maestro series at the Iberian Rooster in St. Pete. Our first Cocktails performance completely sold out, and the program was enthusiastically received by seasoned opera goers and complete opera novices alike. We hope to get another great crowd at our Magic Flute Maestro Series, "Mommie Dearest," in January.

First Operatic Experience!

John Davies’ Pinocchio, an opera for children, was first staged in our 11th Season in conjunction with the Elevate A.R.T.S. program to support arts teachers in high-poverty Pinellas County Schools. The show tells the classic tale of the little wooden boy learning the value of telling the truth, utilizing popular operatic music set to English lyrics. Due to the success of last year’s program, we took on the Pinocchio project again this season with great gusto.  In the weeks leading up to the performances, select singers and our new SPO Asst. Conductor/ Chorus Master, David Štech visited third-grade students at eight Pinellas Co. schools to prepare them for their exciting Opera Central field trip. In the prep sessions, kids experienced live opera singing, learned about the orchestra, participated in a conducting lesson with the Pinocchio “Maestro,” and practiced “The Policeman’s Chorus,” an interactive number that the audience members perform along with the cast during the show. To the children’s delight, they were also presented with a beautiful educational Pinocchio booklet, prepared by members of our wonderful volunteer education committee.
 
Over 600 of these third-graders were then bussed to Opera Central for Pinocchio performances. Leaving the theater, kids were overwhelmingly positive about their experience. “I want to go on every field trip to the opera,” one young man said. “That was a whole hour? That went so fast!” exclaimed another.

 Maestro Sforzini asks kids to raise hands if this is their very first opera. 95% say yes!

Maestro Sforzini asks kids to raise hands if this is their very first opera. 95% say yes!

ST. PETERSBURG OPERA CO.

St. Petersburg Opera will use grant funds to pay for artists for in-school presentations to precede the attendance of 3 rd grade students from under-performing schools at an opera for children. Pinellas County Schools are partnering with us to bus approximately 600 students to Opera Central, our building, for performances of Pinocchio.  students will receive pre-performance instruction on a chorus to be performed as part of the opera (students will sing along with the cast) and will be taught basics of opera and the power of the unamplified human voice.  Each student will receive a booklet to take home with activities and learning opportunities that will coordinate with themusic teacher and the classroom teacher's curriculum objectives.