Herald Neighbors

Season finale with an operatic performance


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Freeporters gathered in the lobby of Freeport High School anticipating to see professional opera singer Yunah Lee perform on May 5 for the 70th concert season finale of the Freeport Community Concert Association. Lee is a graduate of the Juilliard School and Juilliard Opera Center. She has appeared in a number of performances worldwide, but notably recognized for her performance as Cio Cio San in “Madama Butterfly,” a three-act opera.

Lee was accompanied by Elaine Rinaladi, a pianist who has worked among some of the biggest names in opera, including, Russell Thomas, Eglise Gutierrez and Elizabeth Caballero. Lee and Rinaldi performed 12 pieces that included the Korean songs, “Mountain Flower” and “Longing for Home.”  During the performance, Lee also sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, a song from the musical “Carousel.” 

Lee has been a lyric soprano opera singer for more than 30 years and has performed the songs so much, she said they are in her blood. The opportunity to perform in Freeport was an experience she looked forward to. 

“It’s not every day an opera singer can perform at a high school auditorium,” Lee said. “I knew I had to take this opportunity.”

According to the president of the FCCA, Jill Kaplan, she knew she had to bring Lee to Freeport after she and Paul Kaplan, the vice president of the FCCA, saw her at the New York City Opera. 

Paul, who works on the concert’s program, said it was difficult to fit all of Yunah’s credentials in the program. “She has done so many amazing things during her career,” Paul said. “There are performers [like Yunah] with biographies a mile long because she’s performed all over the world and you only have a limited space to fit things [in the program].”

The FCCA has been hosting chamber, jazz, classical and famous Broadway performances for the last 70 years — concerts that are often performed at venues such as Lincoln Center.

Traditionally, the association has four concerts a year. The 70th season included performances by  “Longest-running Phantom,” Franc D’Ambrosio, concert violinist Kinga Augustyn and The Manhattan Chamber Players, a collective of musicians from The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory of Music. The performances from the 71st season have not been announced, and the concerts will resume in the fall.

Nia Matthews is a senior at Freeport High School and an intern at the Freeport Herald Leader.