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Florida Grand Opera offers free events

Opera buffs and novices alike can enjoy free performances courtesy of the Florida Grand Opera’s community outreach efforts.

By Rodolfo Roman

Special to the Herald

Craig Colclough was teaching kindergarten in Los Angeles while trying to pursue a career in opera.

He struggled financially before finally getting a break.

Colclough moved his family to South Florida in September after auditioning for the Florida Grand Opera.

“In opera, you need to be patient,” he said in a phone interview.”

Circumstances are just the key and you have to be persistent.”

Colclough will perform Sunday at Opera in the Park on Miami Beach.

The free event starts at 4 p.m. at Collins Park, 2100 Collins Ave., and is part of the Florida Grand Opera’s 70th season, which included T urandot, The Tales of Hoffmann and Don Giovanni.

The aspiring opera singer said he is grateful for the opportunity.

“Most programs for young singers aren’t enough to support a family,” said Colclough, 28,who moved to South Florida with his child and wife. “It is one of the best young singers program in the country.”

Colclough is part of the Florida Grand Opera’s Doral Center’s Young Artists Studio program, founded in 1984.The program focuses on refining and developing skills for young artists during formal music education, targeting areas in need of improvement. Hundreds apply to the program, but only six are chosen yearly. Auditions are held in Chicago, New York, L.A. and Miami. Those picked are in residency for six to eight months each year for two years and get a weekly stipend of $400, housing, utilities, health insurance and road trip transportation to Miami.

Each member of the program performs in full-scale opera productions. Colclough sang the role of Mandarin in Turand ot in November. In April, the baritone will be Carbon in Cyrano.

Opera in the Park is a mixture of traditional opera and popular musical theater pieces.

Kelly Anderson, director of artistic administration with Florida Grand Opera, said the shows are for everyone.

“One of the main reasons we have these community events is to break many of the stereotypes people have against opera,” she said. “Opera isn’t just for rich and old people.”

On Sunday, Colclough will perform selections from Don Giovanni, Kiss me Kate and Man of La Mancha. Other cast members will also be featured.

Other events will follow later in the year including the Young Artists Community Performance Series that takes place March 18 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami March.

Anderson said opera is ever so popular.

“Most of the people that attend comment on how they never knew that the background music to their favorite cartoon or movie as a child was actually an aria or a score from an opera,” said Anderson.

Colclough practices nearly all week. He said the only way of appreciating opera is seeing it live.

“To perform in front of people live is the only way to educate the community about the art,” he said.

For a complete schedule of the Florida Grand Opera 70th season visit www.fgo.org/young-artists/performances.shtml.

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