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Local Opera Stars Shine in Lindenhurst

The curtain rises for 'Opera Night' at Saint John's Lutheran Church, reuniting local vocal talents from Lindenhurst High School.

“My heart opens to your voice like a flower to the dawn.”

That’s the translation of the opening words by librettist Ferdinand Lemaire for Camille Saint Saen’s seductive Mon Coeur S‘Oeuvre a ta Voix.

Lemaire could've been talking about the audience this past for Opera Night Long Island at Lutheran Church in Lindenhurst.

For two hours vocalists from Isabella Eredita Johnson’s band of operatic singers held the audience in their thrall, and no doubt many a heart opened up like flowers to the dawn in the process.

The event - an extension of Johnson’s Northport Opera Night series - was singular for Lindenhurst not just because it was the first time she brought it to town.

It also drew together operatic vocal talent from such products as Linda Garrity, Danielle Davis, Elizabeth Dow and Amanda Chmela - not to mention Copiague’s Frances Fascetti.

“We all graduated together in 2004 from ,” said Davis, referring to her fellow Lindenhurst sopranos. “We grew up performing together. It’s nice to hear each other again.”

And singing some of the most memorable of all opera arias imaginable. Songs that the average person doesn’t know he or she knows until they’re heard - and then are recalled with guilty delight.

“It was a great selection of music,” said Garrity. “And I like singing here in this church. The acoustics are good, and I like the South Shore vibe.”

According to Johnson, music director of the evening, Opera Night began in her hometown of Northport in 2004 as an informal "open mic" gathering of opera lovers at a café.

“Singers were invited to bring sheet music for arias and duets, and show off their talents for the community,” she noted.

However, the audience grew quickly, and in recent years the operation's expanded to locations throughout the region, “including Greenlawn, Huntington, Manhasset, Commack, Roslyn, Douglaston, and the Walt Whitman and Tanger shopping malls.”

And now Lindenhurst.

Both Elizabeth Dow and Amanda Chmela - who's on the faculty staff at Binghamton - made their debut with Opera Night on the evening.

“It felt good to sing here. I was happy,” said soprano Dow, who's a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.

Added Fascetti: “I’ve sung with Isabella before; in fact, I’ve done the song I sang tonight. But it feels good to sing here. It’s a short trip.”

“I love singing in this church,“ said Davis. “I even used to work here, in the food kitchen.“

For Davis the afternoon of song was a validation of the talent around in the region.

“It just goes to show you that Long Island is still filled with talented people,” she said. “Everyone did wonderfully.”

Steven Kaplan - who not only introduced the evening, but also performed a Sergei Rachmaninoff piece on the piano - said that he invited Johnson to bring Opera Night to Lindenhurst after hearing a performance last year.

“I said, 'Maybe they‘d like to come here and establish a southern base,'” he said. “I’d like to think of this as a pioneer event toward that.”

If you missed the concert on , and want to check out an Opera Night for yourself, try December 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Northport’s Saint Paul’s Methodist, or December 16 at 8 pm.. in Oyster Bay’s Christ Church.

Isabella Johnson November 22, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Beautiful article depicting a wonderful Opera Night performance with many more to follow. Looking forward to December 2nd, 7:30 in Northport, St. Paul's United Methodist Church.

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