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Subject: Martina Arroyo Foundation Celebrates 12th Annual Gala
From: Judy Pantano <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Judy Pantano <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 16 Nov 2016 20:07:31 -0500

text/plain (122 lines)

Martina Arroyo Foundation Celebrates 12th Annual Gala

A review by Nino Pantano

The Martina Arroyo Gala is a much anticipated event on the social calendar and the cause 
could not be better! The mentoring of young opera singers of diverse backgrounds and 
preparing them (six weeks of intensive study plus a stipend) to participate in Prelude to 
Performance where they get to perform in a fully costumed and staged production with 
full orchestra at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. The "literati" and "glitterati' from 
the world of opera, theatre and fashion merge to form a tribute to beauty and the arts. 
The famed JW Marriott Essex House opposite Central Park in New York City was the 
sparkling venue for this coveted night of "stars."

The cocktail hour included many items to be sold at a silent auction. We spotted 
Broadway actors dancer & singer Ben Vereen, actress singer Christine Ebersole and 
Broadway and TV's Mario Cantone, cabaret singer Marilyn Maye, PBS's Midge Woolsey, 
Advisory Board member and her husband economist Dr. Jerry Stolt. There was also a 
bevy of famed and familiar faces from the triple blend from the movers and shakers of 
opera, entertainment and fashion. Met tenor and fellow Sicilian Anthony Laciura with his 
wife Joelle and New York City Opera and Met tenor Richard Leech, both active with the 
Martina Arroyo Foundation. Once in the dining area, the great lady herself, Martina 
Arroyo, looking radiant in gold and silver, welcomed the guests and spoke eloquently 
about the great pride she has in furthering the careers of these incredibly talented young 

Radio host WQXR, Terrance McKnight introduced three special guests, beginning with 
Adrienne Landau, famed American couture designer who described how opera and film 
director Franco Zeffirelli, early in her career liked her products and her sense of fantasy 
and bought many of her scarves for his friends for the holidays. Her message is to 
"believe your dreams." 

Jeanine Tesori, composer and musical arranger won a Tony award for Fun Home. She 
spoke passionately about composing in a man's field without it becoming a mine field and 
the importance of being dedicated and never giving up.

The third honoree was Broadway actress and singer Christine Ebersole, who told the 
audience how much this award means to her and that nobody works harder than these 
young opera singers. 

Maestro Stephen Crawford, who conducted the Prelude to Performance orchestra last July 
was the superb accompanist. The music began with the third act of Puccini's La Boheme.

Yunnie Park was Mimi, her radiant soprano caressing the ear and her poignant voice the 
soul, as she sang "Addio, Senza rancor." Her distraught Rodolfo, Dangelo Diaz whose 
ardent tenor flooded the house "Addio sogni d'amor" in their duet was a perfect blend of 
singing and acting.

Seok Jong Baek was the exasperated Marcello, his lyric baritone engaging in banter and 
insult with Musetta and always pleasing to hear.

Musetta, Holly Cameron, moderated her shimmering soprano voice, but strong in her 
arguments with Marcello. Both couples agree to stay together, until spring. Beautiful 
break up and make up ensemble singing!

Dinner was served followed by a "live" auction with rapid banter auctioneer Warren Adler 
selling off some wonderful items including a week in Paris and a week in London!

Excerpts from Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus followed. Hongni Wu sang a witty 
"Chacun a son gout" from Act Two. Her rich, dark mezzo plumbed the plummy depths of 
this aria and it was a tour de force just as it was in last July's Prelude to Performance.

The Act One scene trio followed with rising soprano star Maria Natale as a sparkling, 
radiant voiced Rosalinde, coloratura soprano Shana Grossman repeating her savory saucy 
Adele and matinee idol tenor Jonathan Tetelman as Eisenstein. He was also in last July's 
excellent production of Die Fledermaus and his change from baritone to tenor repertory is 
coming along very well indeed!

Opera Index treasurer Murray Rosenthal presented the award to Broadway great Christine 
Ebersole. Christine Ebersole sang a Harold Arlen ballad from Bloomer Girl "Right as the 
Rain" without a mike in a lovely, clear expansive soprano that wrapped itself around the 
ear and heart of us all, brava!

After dessert and closing remarks by Terrance McKnight, Grammy award winning 
musician and saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, accompanied by Daniel Freiberg played a 
sensual "Libertango" by Astor Piazzolla followed by a jazzed up "Quando me'n Vo" by 
Puccini and some jazz improv in which could be heard The Donkey in the Grand Canyon 

Special thanks to honorary Gala chairs, Donna and Richard Esteves and Andrew Martin-
Weber, all who were so diligent on behalf of this exciting evening.

We thank Martina Arroyo, Kennedy Center Awardee, legendary Metropolitan Opera 
soprano and musical pioneer and beacon for future stars. Martina's beloved Dad Demetrio 
worked as an engineer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to pay for her musical education. 
Martina fondly recalls the baseball games and the hot dogs from Ebbets Field that he 
brought her as a reward for her efforts.

The Martina Arroyo Board of Directors gave special thanks on the beautifully printed 
program to Martina Arroyo, Norena Barbella, Marcia Green and Helen Chang. It was fun 
to meet with honorary gala co-chair and Vice President Andrew Martin-Weber whose big 
league bravos were a joy to hear. I dubbed him the "Caruso of bravoers"! Edward 
Sadovnik also on Martina’s Gala Committee and Ruth Finley, the founder of The Fashion 
Calendar and a central figure in the American Fashion Industry added to the glamour mix.

Our host at our table was Advisory Board Member Stephen De Maio President of the 
Gerda Lissner Foundation, with board members Karl Michaelis, Vice President Michael 
Fornabaio, patron Barbara Ann Testa, Joyce Greenberg and Gloria Gari from the Giulio 
Gari Foundation and Janet Stovin from Opera Index, pioneer Maestro Eve Queler from 
Opera Orchestra of New York and writer Meche Kroop and Cavaliere Edward Jackson 
added spice to the mix.

As we left homeward bound, we chatted with famed radio personality WQXR Nimet 
Habachy with Mr. Maisel, former awardee Michele Angelini, internationally acclaimed Met 
Opera tenor, told us of his family roots in Park Slope, Brooklyn via Italy.

All of this glitter and glory is for giving the fresh young talented singers a "push" toward 
attaining their goals and thus ensuring this beauty parched planet, a future with opera 
and music and the joys therein. Brava Martina Arroyo and thank you and the Martina 
Arroyo Foundation for letting in the sunlight of enlightenment and hope!

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