Friday, May 13, 2011
In January 2009, Anthony Amato announced that he was closing the Amato Opera after more than 60 years. Amato also said that he was selling the building at 319 Bowery that he had called home since 1962.
As he told the Times, "I'm 88 years old, and I'm a little tired," he said. "I have a few years left."
However shocking the news may have been to the public, the announcement wasn't a complete surprise to some company members.
"There were some rumors swirling among the cast in the late fall of 2009," Melissa Gerstein, an East Village resident and an Amato member since 2004, told me on the phone. "We noted his health. He was just tired. He still had a lot of live. He wanted to do some other things to do with his time."
And then the cast began to talk about the future.
"There were a lot of people who had been involved with the company for 30-40 years. There were really sad about not being able to go to the Amato every week to perform," Gerstein said.
So a small group of cast members continued talking about launching Amore Opera to fill that void in producing homespun, inexpensive productions and keeping the Amato spirit alive.
Once the members had everything in order — a board and budget, for starters — they approached Amato with their idea.
He gave them an enthusiastic endorsement.
Tonight, the Amore Opera finishes up their second season with a production of "Carmen," which runs through May 29 at the Connelly Theatre at 220 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.
For Amato, Gerstein said that he was extremely pleased that people who he loved and cared about were going to be continuing his legacy.
And what does Anthony Amato mean to her?
"He is a very warm and giving person. He’s just in it for the music, and no other purpose. For a young person like myself coming in — I was a year out of graduate school, which was tough and rigorous — jumping into a company like Amato, with a fun, unstructured way of doing things… He molded each performer into the person that he knew they could become up on stage."
For further reading:
Amato Opera (Jeremiah's Vanishing NY)
Find more information on the Amore Opera here.