Opera Responds to Pulse Tragedy with ONE VOICE ORLANDO Benefit on 9/11
For one night only, on Sunday September 11, 2016 at 8 p.m., One Voice Orlando: A Celebration in Song will be performed in the Walt Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 South Magnolia Avenue in downtown Orlando, FL. The benefit concert will feature some of opera's brightest national stars and musicians from throughout Florida. Internationally-renowned David Charles Abell will conduct and legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes will be one of the evening's hosts.
"We'll be almost exactly at three months from the date of the shooting when the concert is held," said Gabriel Preisser, the Executive and Artistic Director of Opera Orlando. "Over this time, we've witnessed a remarkable outpouring of support and generosity for the victims, their families and those directly impacted by this horrific shooting, As I spoke to fellow artists and administrators from around the country it became clear that our art form had to become a part of this effort to respond to the pain, sadness and confusion caused by the death and injury of so many innocent people. Some great individuals and organizations have stepped forward
Opera Orlando and its partners in this benefit concert have selected Central Florida organizations that work to build understanding of our region's diversity and address the interpersonal challenges that many people in their community face every day. These are the Orlando LGBTQ Community Center, Proyecto Somos Orlando, Holocaust Center's "UpStanders: Stand Up To Bullying Initiative," the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the Zebra Coalition, which helps LGBTQ youth. But it was the Orlando Health's Level One Trauma Center that was the impetus for the benefit concert.
"One of the main reasons we are presenting this concert is to give back to the community and recognize the men and women that responded so valiantly during this tragedy," explained Preisser. "The Orlando Health's Level One Trauma Center saved many lives through their quick and effective response but their resources were severely depleted. The dollars we donate from One Voice Orlando will make a big difference. We'll also be honoring the doctors and staff of the Trauma Center during the concert."
Confirmed performers for September 11 include sopranos Ana MariA Martinez, Sarah Joy Miller and Cecilia Violetta López mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano; tenors Javier Abreu and Chad Johnson; and baritones Davis Gaines and Mark Walters. Opera Orlando will be joined by the Orlando Ballet and an orchestra comprised of regional professionals. All performers are donating their services to help maximize the funds going to the beneficiaries.
To help make One Voice Orlando benefit a reality, help was needed from outside of Florida. New York-based opera and musical theatre producer Matthew Principe and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell have helped to coordinate the on-stage talent. Campbell is also providing the lyrics for a world-premiere composition, "Light Shall Lift Us," by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec that will be debuted at One Voice Orlando. OPERA America, the preeminent voice of and supporting organization for opera companies in the United States, stepped forward and took the lead in including opera companies throughout Florida in the benefit concert.
"When we learned of Opera Orlando's effort to serve the community at this important time, we were honored to help make this a demonstration of field-wide unity behind our Brothers and Sisters in Orlando," stated Marc. A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. "Everyone responded enthusiastically, demonstrating our field's commitment to strengthening bonds of understanding through opera."
As a result of OPERA America's work, the concert will have a choir in excess of 150 voices with contributions from companies from and around Florida including Opera Orlando, Opera Naples, St. Petersburg Opera, Opera Tampa, Gulfshore Opera, First Coast Opera and Sarasota Opera.
"Because of the magnitude of this act of hatred and misunderstanding it became evident to us that a great opportunity has been presented to us in our community," said John Wettach, President of the Board of Directors of Opera Orlando. "We want to see something great come from this."