In the summer of 2009 three internationally acclaimed opera singers, who also call Phoenicia home, offered to stage an opera concert in the Phoenicia Parish Field to raise money for much needed playground equipment for local children. Mezzo soprano Maria Todaro and baritones Louis Otey and Kerry Henderson , with a team of dedicated local volunteers, produced “Opera under the Stars”, which, despite rain, and a threatening thunder storm, attracted an audience of over five hundred intrepid souls to this tiny Catskills village. The cries of the audience for an “encore”, and the incredibly positive response of the whole community was so powerful, that the three singers started considering how to offer their community more than a “one off” event. They met with people in the town and the wider community, called on friends and supporters, and started planning -in just six months; the idea of a festival celebrating the human voice in all its multi-faceted glory became a reality.
The first festival in 2010 offered six events in three days including an al fresco performance of Verdi’s Falstaff, an opening night gala concert featuring world renowned soprano Elizabeth Futral and the Grammy Award winning Native American artist Joseph Firecrow.
in 2011 the festival expanded to four days and offered 22 events attracting over 4,000 people to Phoenicia. Highlights included Mozart’s Don Giovanni with full orchestra conducted by Metropolitan Maestro Steven White, Voices of Distinction starring soprano Lauren Flanigan , and performances by gospel diva Rozz Morehead and Arabic ‘oud master Simon Shaheen.
Last Summer’s the four days and same amount of events than the year before, attracted over 5,000 people to the magical little hamlet.
Madama Butterfly was celebrated , starring Yunah Lee and Richard Troxell, a fantastic Voice of Distinction: Broadway, always featuring established professionals and a few young talent, our very own local talent Lucia Legnini , the festival closed with a glorious presentation of the serious work of Peter Schickele, teh 12 Months, a concerto for piano and choir, narrated by Peter Schickele himself, star Barry Banks participated again and blessed us by his talent.
We are looking forward to present the incredible 2013 season and share our progress with you.