Opera & Ballet Night a Big Hit in Astoria

By Constantinos Vouzakis

NEW YORK – The 6th Annual Opera and Ballet Night was held at the Petros Patridis Cultural Center of the Cathedral of St. Demetrios in Astoria on October 18.

The successful cultural event was presented in anticipation of the Feast Day of St. Demetrios in collaboration with the Hellenic Music Foundation.

The event also commemorated the 88th anniversary of the Greek Orthodox Community of Astoria.

It was indeed a night of great performances with a selection of opera pieces from well-known composers and the participation of a cast of tenors, baritones, sopranos and a ballet with talented young dancers.

The conductor of the orchestra, Yannis Xylas, had at his disposal a complete, sixty-strong ensemble of classical instrumentalists and choir.

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The audience watched and listened to the concert with great interest and enjoyed the variety of music from operas as well as symphonic excerpts.

The first part of the concert started with the opening aria of Leon Cavallos’ “Pagliacci,” performed by the baritone Raemond Martin in the role of Tonio.

Next came excerpts from Bizet’s “Carmen,” that included portions of ballet music and the Chorus “Les voici” from Act IV. The ballet was choreographed by Erin Pryor and the dancers were (in order of appearance): Natalie  Pulido, Katey Kephart, Brittany Febus, Ashley Ervin, John Durbin, and Benedict Nguyen.

The next classical piece was from Donizetti’s opera “Maria Stuarda,” Preghiera degli Scozzesi (Prayer of the Scots) from Act III. Maria Stuarda: Patricia Vital, Anna Kennedy: Emilia Diakopoulou, Talbot: Stephan Kirchgraber.

The program followed with Act 3 from “Le Nozze Di Figaro” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – No. 20 Duettino, a duet performed by Flora Kirou in the role of the Countess and Stella Papatheodorou as Suzanna.

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Next in line was Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Macbeth” – La luce langue, with Lady Macbeth’s Aria from the 2nd Act performed by Rosa d’ Imperio as Lady Macbeth.

The first part of the program closed with music from  Rossini’s opera “Ermione.” The cast performed spectacularly in the Finale, both acoustically and visually. Soprano Asako Tamura was Ermione, Daniel Greenwood was Oreste, Beqa Goginashvilli was Pilade, Emilia Diakopoulou was Cefisa, Perri Sussman was Andromaca, Luis Riva was Pirro, Patricia Vital was Cleone, and Marco Matute was Attalo.

The program resumed after the intermission with Mikis Theodorakis’s work Canto Olimpico – Ode to Zeus performed by the choir and accompanied by the orchestra.

This was followed by the ballet from “Le Corsaire” (The Pirate) – Orage et Pas des Deux, choreographed by Erin Pryor, performances for the Pas de Deux (duet of ballet dancers), John Dublin, Ashley Ervin

Coda: Katey Kephart, Brittany Febus, Natalie Pulido, Ashley Ervin.

From Act 2 of Richard Wagner’s opera “Der Fliegende Hollander -The Flying Dutchman” a duet and trio was performed by  Raemond Martin as the Dutchman, Rosa d’ Imperio as Senta, and Stephan Kirchgraber as Daland.

The concert continued with an aria from Rossini’s opera “Stabat Matter” with a soprano aria performed by Asako Tamura.

A ballet piece followed from George Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture.” Choreographed by Emily Berry, the dance was performed by: Lance Berquin, Tiffany Brown, Heather Gardner, Vanessa Guglielmo, Vanessa Nandrum, Simeon Polydore, and Roxanne Wickham.

The final portion of the program consisted of excerpts from Kalman’s operetta “Die Zirkussprinzessin – The Circus Princess,” with Luis Riva as Mister-X and Bega Goginashvilli as Princess.

The cast of several performers on stage and a spectacular show of colors and sound evoked a standing ovation.

The director of the orchestra, Yannis Xylas, said to TNH that “the annual opera and ballet concert was organized for the sixth time in the context of the Saint Demetrius name celebration. We would like to thank Nick A. Andriotis, our producer, without whom we would not be able to organize this concert.”

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All of the performances were appreciated by the Greek-Americans and Americans in attendance. They gave their heartfelt applause to all of the performers and especially to Maestro Yannis Xylas.

Mary Sakkis was responsible for the program supervision.

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