Opera audiences seem to be steadily diminishing, but two South Florida organizations hope to revive this art form.
Through the non-profit organization Magic City Opera, Graham Fandrei is making opera more accessible and affordable.
“You go to opera and you literally get everything you need as far as exposure to the arts and we all know that kids do better when they have exposure to the arts,” said Graham Fandrei, Magic City Opera.
Although Fandrei's father was a singer, opera peaked his interest in elementary school when Young Patronesses of the Opera took a 30-minute production to his school.
“Being able to be close up, hear, and feel the voices and see the interaction was fantastic,” said Fandrei.
Young Patronesses of the Opera was founded in 1956 with a small group of volunteer women who believed in opera education. Today, YPO offers a number of opera education programs in South Florida.
“It’s actually seeing the look on the faces of these children in those in-school operas that gives you that big ah-ha moment as to why it is so worth it,” said Amal Solh Kabbani, Young Patronesses of the Opera.
Years after his elementary school run-in with opera, Fandrei went on to perform with YPO's in-school opera program. Fandrei, a baritone, has also performed in venues around the world. For Florida Grand Opera he has appeared as Baron Douphol in La Traviata, the Official Registrar in Madama Butterfly, Moralès in Carmen, and as the Marquis Brisaille in Cyrano.
Now, Fandrei continues to give back to the community by co-founding Magic City Opera.
“We do operas under 90 minutes so it’s never too long, we call ourselves a social opera company so we have activities before and after so people can have some fun and we also go to the community theaters,” said Fandrei.
Fandrei and his wife Rebekah Diaz Fandrei, Director of Education and Community Engagement at Florida Grand Opera, recently produced "Hansel and Gretel." Members of Magic City Opera performed this family favorite in Pinecrest and the Olympia Theater.
Magic City Opera is now preparing for Opera in the Park at Bayfront Park in March 2018.
The Young Patronesses of the Opera will resume their in-school opera program in January 2018.
“I think everyone should give opera a chance. It’s a fantastic evening, it’s a fantastic art form, and it’s one that they won’t ever regret going to and I guarantee that," said Fandrei.