For one Saturday morning, the Barber of Seville visited East Ridge at Cutler Bay Senior Living Community.
Graham Fandrei, founder and executive director of Magic City Opera, performed the song Largo La Factotun from the legendary opera Barber of Seville on July 29 in front of a crowd of some 60 people comprised mostly of East Ridge residents.
Fandrei, who was educated New England Conservatory and the Julliard School followed his performance with an informational session about opera history, its current state, and possible future trends.
Ann Heard, a recent East Ridge resident, felt Fandrei’s singing performance was captivating, but she also felt the overall presentation was informative.
“What I know about opera dates back, but I did not know all the new stuff that is going on to modernize opera for those who are unfamiliar with it,” she said.
Two-year resident and opera enthusiast Jeff Haller orchestrated for Fandrei to visit East Ridge. As the founder of the ironically named gorup, “The East Ridge Opera Haters Club,” he felt Fandrei’s talent and expertise would be a treat for the residents and community alike.
“I am an opera missionary, and the people here, myself included, really learned a lot about opera today,” Haller said about Fandrei’s visit. “Graham is such a talented singer and has such a talent for explaining things and delivering information in an interesting way.”
Fandrei has performed on Broadway and was educated at New World School of the Arts. It was during his tenure with Florida Grand Opera that he conceived the idea to form Magic City Opera, a non-profit company dedicated to bringing opera events out to the greater Miami-Dade Community.
“I consider my company a service for the community,” Fandrei said. “I am out here to donate my time and allow people to learn about opera.”
Taking time on a Saturday morning at East Ridge was a means of exposing some opera fans to a performance for an upcoming show and perhaps captivating new opera enthusiasts. Additionally, Fandrei wants to serve as an ambassador for the opera art form.
“We are always trying to build awareness for the opera brand,” Fandrei said. “I want all companies to succeed in advancing the brand. I am pleased that I was able to be an opera ambassador during my time at Florida Grand Opera, and I am grateful that I am able to continue the work with Magic City Opera.
Magic City Opera is presenting Hansel and Gretel on Oct. 22, a show that Fandrei hopes to make a yearly tradition for Miami-Dade County.
“One of the things I realized that ballet does well, is yearly shows and that helps build interest in the art form year in and year out,” Fandrei said. “Hansel and Gretel will be a Halloween tradition with kids encouraged to wear costumes, meet performers, and do some trick-or-treating on set.”
Opera ambassadors in Miami-Dade, such as Fandrei and Haller, will continue to keep opera fans updated and convert opera haters to attend the numerous opera productions available in the greater Miami-Dade region.
“We are all one big family creating art for the community,” Fandrei said.