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The Amato Opera

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319 Bowery New York NY 10003 USA

City Lore honored the Amato Opera's two wonderful directors, Tony and Sally Amato, with a People’s Hall of Fame Award in 1998, in honor of their 50th season. The Amato celebrated its 60th season last year. May 31, 2009 will be their last performance. Sometimes called a "mom and pop opera company," the Amato stands at the corner of Bowery and Second Street in Manhattan. It held it first performance -- Rossini's Barber of Seville -- in l948 in the auditorium of Our Lady of Pompeii Church at Bleeker and Carmine. In l954, they opened with the same opera in their new home at 159 Bleeker Street. The Bleeker Street Theater closed in l959, and the company performed in different spaces as Sally and Tony planned their next move -- their permanent home at 319 Bowery at Second Street, which opened in l964. In its early days, Sally sustained the company in its early days with her lovely, lyric soprano -- she then served as the costume designer, known to alter a costume from a size 10 to a size 20 to fit the varied dimensions of their many casts. Tony is the maestro who knows his repertoire of operas almost by heart. During the last intermission of every show, Tony addresses the audience and asks them to tell their friends about the Amato Opera,"for we only advertise through you." Through word of mouth, these "guardian angels" of the music, have created a community of opera lovers (it's believed to be the only self sustaining opera house in the world). "How do you do it?" Tony was asked. He answered, "from one opera to the next." All of us at City Lore were sad to learn that the Amato will close after the spring, 2009 season. But Tony says he’s tired, and, at the age of 88, he’s entitled! Age and change are often a sadness, but tragedy lies in waste. This is one time when a closing seems to us an opportunity to celebrate a beautiful aria that enchanted this city for 61 years, and that will linger in the minds of all who ever attended. The world's smallest opera house will always be a mammoth city icon. May the curtain always open for Tony and Sally! New York City loves you!

Credits: From Amato: A Love Affair with Opera, directed by Stephen Ives, sponsored by City Lore. (1:26)