Members of local opera company sing for the love of music and community

April 14, 2011 Heather Chin
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What better way to celebrate the coming of spring than withbursts of song?

That’s how members of the Regina Opera Company feel. On Sunday, May1, the group will be holding its fifth and final Sunday concert ofthe 2010-2011 season, bringing two hours of classic Broadwayfavorites to Brooklyn audiences in need of a little musicalsunshine.

:Swing Along Broadway will be held at Regina Hall at 1210 65thStreet at 3 p.m. and will feature songs from popular musicals suchas Oklahoma, West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate, Show Boat, MyFair Lady, Carousel, Camelot and South Pacific.

Even if you aren’t a Broadway musical fan, you will recognize 100percent of these selections. They are all classic Broadway pieces,said Francine Garber-Cohen, producer of the concert and chairpersonof the company. The audience will know all the tunes and we’llhave you dancing in your seats. You’ll be having a really goodtime.

The two-hour concert is a formal affair similar to a PBS charityconcert – instead of costumes and storylines, soloists will performthe musical medley in elegant gowns and suits. The seven soloistswill be accompanied by flutist Richard Paratley and pianist EddieRusso, who Garber-Cohen said has quite a following of his own asBrooklyn’s answer to one of the Liberaces.

According to their website, the Regina Opera Company was founded in1970 on a postage-stamp sized stage in a church youth center byopera-loving neighbors Marie Cantoni and Nicholas Tierno, who weremembers of the Regina Pacis parish, so that Tierno’s brother wouldhave somewhere to sing as a tenor. It drew support and singers fromlocal church choirs, performing in small recitals before expandingto full operas.

Over the years, the Regina Opera company has grown into its role asone of two opera companies in southern Brooklyn, with space atRegina Hall, a 35-piece orchestra and financial support from localpoliticians, arts foundations, businesses and individuals, plusticket sales. But, its members pride themselves on still being acommunity effort.

Local eateries such as La Sorrentina, Meze Restaurant and BagelBarn often donate food for the singers and gift certificates forevents. In return, the company schedules its performances duringthe afternoon so that attendees can leave and still have plenty oftime and daylight for dinner.

In addition to staging three operas and five Sunday concerts perseason, the opera company holds several outreach concerts in arealibraries and parks.

With the end of the 2010-2011 Sunday concert season, Regina Operawill tackle one more lovelorn opera, The Tales of Hoffman, andthen move on to outreach concerts at the Brooklyn Heights PublicLibrary at 6 p.m. on May 12, and the Brighton Beach Library at 3p.m. on June 7. For details about upcoming free concerts,

Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for teens and free for children.They can be purchased at the box office up to 90 minutes before theevent. It is first-come-first-served at the 250-seat concert hall,which is located near the D and N subway lines, as well as the B9,B16 and B1 buses.

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