The Long Island Opera arrives at the Madison Theatre in Rockville Centre with “Rigoletto” on Oct. 6. LIO reintroduced itself to area audiences with a production of “Carmen” at Guild Hall on Sept. 15. LIO’s “Carmen” included (from left) soprano Margaret Meyer as Frasquita, baritone Thaddaeus Bourne as Dancairo, tenor Christopher Sierra as Remendado, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Pojanowski as Mercedes, and mezzo-soprano Kara Cornell as Carmen.
The revitalized Long Island Opera company is making its mark on the region’s arts scene. It unveils its first season of fully staged opera productions in more than a decade, when LIO makes its debut at the Madison Theatre in Rockville Centre with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” on Saturday, Oct. 6.
The company, which had suffered through years of inactivity due to the decline in arts funding during the late ‘90s, has sprung back to life through the efforts of its current, dynamic, executive director Joy Berta. The Hawaiian-born soprano, a seasoned performer who comes to Long Island Opera via Manhattan, has re-energized the Long Island Opera, which turned 50 years old last year, with her enthusiasm, talents and passion for opera.
The result is LIO’s first season of full-length productions in over 10 years. The initial production, Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” was performed to an enthusiastic audience in East Hampton earlier this month. Now the company has arrived at the Madison Theatre with Verdi’s masterpiece “Rigoletto,” to be followed by Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme – also at the Madison Theatre – in April.
“I came on in 2009 with a vision of bringing an exceptional opera company to Long Island,” Berta said. “We want the community to share with us the wonderful experience of live opera performances right here on Long Island,” said Berta, adding, “we understand our audience is key to our success. It is their support, patronage, and enthusiasm that will help LIO thrive as Long Island’s Opera company.”
To that end, Berta began to rebuild Long Island Opera through a series of concerts that helped to draw attention to the notion that LIO – which was incorporated in 1961 with New York City Opera tenor Nino Luciano at the helm – had come back to life. “I stepped into this on blind faith and for the love of opera and proposed some ideas and things began to happen,” Berta said.