Local To Debut ‘Opera On The Beach’ This Sunday!

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Rockaway has evolved into quite a mecca for music, and local opera singer, AnnaClare Del Vecchio, is adding a new pitch to the scene this Sunday, August 11 with her first-ever opera concert titled, “Opera On The Beach,” at Rustwoods.

So, how did the 22-year-old singer come up with the off-the-beaten-path idea of bringing opera to Rockaway? Del Vecchio says her mom, Maureen, was her inspiration.

“My mom deserves a lot of credit for strongly encouraging me to create Opera On The Beach. A few months ago, I told her that Whitney Aycock, the owner of Whit’s End, came up to me one night asking when I was going to sing for him. I was kind of reluctant at first because I didn’t think anybody would want to hear opera. I guess when I told my mom what Whit said, it stuck in her head, and she said, ‘Why don’t you get your opera friends to come down to Rockaway and do a concert? You can call the event, ‘Opera on the Beach.’ With just a month’s notice, I got a bunch of my opera friends together. I can’t believe this is all happening,” she said.

Del Vecchio says she understands the uniqueness of opera and hopes others will learn to appreciate it as well. “I always wanted to do something like this, but I guess I just didn’t have the confidence. I know the Rockaway Theatre Company does a lot of Broadway shows, and a few people asked me why I don’t start an opera company in Rockaway. Unfortunately, I think opera is so underrated. I don’t think a lot of people know how beautiful it is, and often misjudge it. In my opinion, opera is on the same level as musical theater. Obviously, there are differences, but the drama, the acting, the costumes are all the same,” Del Vecchio shared.

Being born in Italy, which many consider to be the homeland of opera, Del Vecchio says opera was in her blood. “I think being born there had some influence on my passion for it. Plus my family is pretty musical. My mom used to own a jazz bar in St. Marks Place in the East Village in Manhattan and she is also a very big opera fan. My dad is a rock and roll artist. He plays guitar and piano, and he also loves opera. So as a child I was exposed to opera, but I never thought that I would pursue singing it as a career. As a child, I was more into theater and pop music. I used to be involved in the original Rockaway Theater Club that was held at the First Congregational Church on Beach 94th Street. That’s when my passion for performing for an audience really began,” she said.

However, it was a voice teacher that helped Del Vecchio’s talent bloom. “My passion for opera began when I was in the seventh grade when I started taking voice lessons with Jennifer Pomeroy. She is the one who made me realize that I had the libretto to sing opera. I started singing Art Songs, which is like a beginner piece for young opera singers who are just starting out. Jennifer assigned me a piece and that’s when I realized that wow, I can do opera. Then when it was time for high school, I knew I wanted to attend a school with a strong performance arts program, so I auditioned for LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, and thankfully I got in. And I guess that’s when my passion for opera truly reached a high pitch,” Del Vecchio said.

As for many opera singers, Del Vecchio says the pitch of her voice has changed with age. For example, she started off a mezzo-soprano (a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types), and then in her last year of school, her voice changed to be a full soprano.

“As you age, your voice changes, so who knows what my pitch would be like ten years from now. They usually don’t like to label younger singers because our voices are still developing. It has to do with the color of your voice and, this Sunday, attendees will get to see the differences in the voices from singers of different ages. For example, with the male singers, some are dark tenors, and some are light tenors. The same goes for the female mezzo and sopranos singers.

However, this isn’t a bad thing. Famous opera singer, Cecilia Bartoli, says “the voice is like fine aged wine. The more it ages, the better it becomes.”

At Opera On The Beach, attendees will get to hear a range of Italian, German, French and English pieces. Some sets on the list of 17 include, “In Uomini, in Soldati from the opera, Cosi Fan Tutte and “Ruhe Sanft Mein Leben" from the German opera, “Zaide.” The group of ten singers, range from ages 19 to 25.

Del Vecchio, who turns 23 next week, says being able to perform at Opera On The Beach will be true birthday gift. So come help her celebrate this Sunday, August 11 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Rustwoods, located at 9702 Rockaway Beach Blvd (behind Whit’s End). Note, there is a $10 suggested donation.

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