Published in Staten Island Live

by Michael J. Fressola

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Opera Exposures, the non-profit organization that promotes new audiences and fledgling singers, will honor the late Licia Albanese at its next performance, a free show Sunday, Oct. 19, at 3 p.m. in the Music Hall of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, Livingston.

The Italian-born soprano, who died in August at 105, played most of  the genres celebrated dramatic soprano roles and  came to be hailed as a diva assoluta (the pinnacle of divadom).

A great favorite of New York audiences, she sang at the Metropolitan Opera 400 times.

She also performed — informally — at Snug Harbor in the 1990s, at the gala opening of “Lo Spirito” an exhibit of contemporary Italian art in the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art.

At one point in during the evening, both the soprano and attendees burst spontaneously into song.

Licia Albanese

Licia Albanese in her “Madama Butterfly” kimono (New York City Opera Festival)

The singer was a fan and supporter of Opera Exposures, according to founder and West Brighton resident Edna Greenwich. “Mme Albanese attended our inaugural presentation in 2004 in the Municipal Building downtown and she was very supportive,” she recalled.

On Oct. 19, two singers, tenor Ta’u Pupu’a and soprano Julia Rowling, will perform arias associated with Albanese and her repertoire.

Local audiences will recall the six-foot-five Pupu’a, a tenor. Among several assignments on Island stages, he starred as Pinkerton in a Staten Island Philharmonic concert version of “Madama Butterfly.”

The Chris Gillespie Quartet, regulars at the Hotel Carlyle, will perform as will pianist Sean Kelly. Opera authority (and legendary bon vivant) Dwight Owsley will narrate the program.

The concert is free, but donations will be accepted. Snug Harbor is located at 1000 Richmond Terr., Livingston.

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