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Opera fans can enjoy a treat this afternoon

Soloists and a chorus will perform at Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.

By MELVIN BAKER
Published February 15, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - There's a Super Bowl of sorts today, featuring some of the biggest names in their league. But without the passes, replays or bared breasts.

The big names include Carmen, Rigoletto, Don Giovanni and Madame Butterfly, some of the best-loved operas in the Western world. Soloists and a chorus of more than 150 voices from St. Petersburg College will sing selected choral pieces and arias from those works at Opera Fest, a 3 p.m. concert at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle, 5815 Fifth Ave. N.

The cost is $10.

The fest will be a first for the SPC Concert Chorus, chorus director Dr. Vernon J. Taranto noted, because the group is accustomed to performing music written specifically for many voices. Last year, the Concert Chorus performed Mozart's Coronation Mass at St. Jude's. Arias will be performed solo or in duet by students and music faculty at SPC, as well members of St. Jude's congregation.

SPC's College and Community choruses form the Concert Chorus. The College Chorus, which consists of about 60 SPC students, had only about five weeks to prepare for Opera Fest. The Community Chorus is made up of about 95 people from the public.

Carmen is sung in French; Rigoletto, in Italian. "It's been a real challenge to the students to have to grapple with these foreign languages," Taranto said. "It's taken up a lot of time in rehearsal."

The concert is sponsored by the Cathedral Arts Program of St. Jude, which is led by Rosaline Posno, who with her late husband, William, sang opera professionally before moving to St. Petersburg in the 1970s and opening a flower shop.

The couple formed the St. Petersburg Opera Co. in 1976. Transformed into Florida Opera, the organization went bankrupt in the early 1980s.

Mrs. Posno, a lyric soprano, will sing two duets with Rhonda Cofield, also of St. Jude's: the Flower Duet from Madame Butterfly and Solaria, or the Letter Duet, from the Marriage of Figaro.

Mrs. Posno said the cathedral was ideally suited for concerts. "It's a beautiful cathedral. The sound in there is so wonderful. It's magnificent."

The venue is a reminder that much of Western music originated in the churches and cathedrals of Western Europe.

That fact, Mrs. Posno said, is "something we should cherish and keep, especially today. The world is chaos. People come and they feel relaxed and they go away feeling good. If we can do that, if we can accomplish something like that, I think we've made a point there.

"It's a place where someone can come on a Sunday afternoon. It's a beautiful setting. Where would you find a setting like that? Only in Europe or Canada."

[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]


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