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Cultural Notes
Lucine Amara, Opera Diva, Reaches High Note of 90, After 70 Years of Performing

Lucine AmaraOpera diva Lucine Amara, Artistic Director of the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, celebrates a milestone on March 1:  her 90th birthday and over 70 years performing on the stage.  

Ms. Amara debuted with the Metropolitan Opera in 1950 and sang off stage the Celestial Voice in Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlo, and her career took off.  Rave reviews poured in from the New York Post, the Daily News, and Times, among others.  Nineteen days later, she sang First Lady in Magic Flute.

Amara appeared on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera for 41 years.  She sang 882 onstage performances, five opening nights, nine new productions, and 57 radio broadcasts. 

During that time, Amara performed 56 different roles, ranging from Aida to Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly.  Movie credits include performing in The Great Caruso with Mario Lanza and various recordings including Pagliacci with Franco Corelli and Richard Tucker.

Time Magazine stated: “She brought to the stage the kind of dazzling vocal splendor that made the Met famous...” "Lucine Amara is a superstar by longevity; a phenomenal vocal and dramatic artist of the highest order."

 "In 1991, I retired from the Metropolitan Opera, after performing 41 years on that stage.  Singing has been the greatest joy of my life and I guess I'll keep singing until they close the box on me!  At 90, life still looks wonderful and certainly productive.  I plan on being around until I am a 100!" exclaimed Ms. Amara.

 Her illustrious list of career accomplishments spans over 1000 operatic performances and appearances in 33 opera houses and with 25 symphony orchestras throughout the United States, as well as in 21 other countries, including China, Japan, Armenia, and Russia.  The Times of London called her "the greatest lyric soprano of our time."  In 1954, she was the first American singer to perform the role of Aida in Italy at the annual Bathes of Caracalla’s Summer Festival in Rome.

Early Years

Born Lucine Armaganian on March 1, 1925 in Hartford, Connecticut, her family moved to the Midwest and eventually settled in San Francisco.  Although she studied the violin, singing was her passion.  She attended San Francisco’s Community Music School and studied with vocal teacher Stella Eisner-Eyn.  With only one year of vocal training, she was accepted to sing as a contralto in the San Francisco Opera Chorus, making her concert debut in 1946.
  
At the Music Academy of the West, she studied with the great operatic baritone Richard Bonelli.
While continuing vocal studies at the University of Southern California and singing as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Amara assumed the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos and Lady Billows in Albert Herring in 1949.

Honors

In 2014, she received the first Daughters of Vartan Woman of the Year Award at the Grand Banquet of Knights and Daughters of Vartan National Convention in San Diego, California.  Other honors include first prize in the Atwater-Kent Auditions in Los Angeles.
Since retiring from the Met in 1991, Ms. Amara has continued to perform and teach a new generation of aspiring opera stars in master classes throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  In 1993, she performed at a fundraiser for the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera and in 1995, she became the company’s artistic director.  Fans will have an opportunity to meet her at the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera's production of Carmen on Sunday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m. at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey.
  
Ms. Amara plans to celebrate her 90th birthday with the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera family.  "The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera keeps me on my toes.  The success of the company has brought me a fulfillment few get to experience in their twilight years," she said.

About New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera

For 26 years, the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera (Verismo Opera) has been an integral part of the region’s classical music culture.  Led by Metropolitan Opera luminary Lucine Amara, Verismo Opera delivers a rich, grand opera experience for performers and viewers.

The organization provides performing opportunities for young musicians and artists through its semi-annual productions at the Bergen Performing Arts Center and concerts held in community settings.  Community members are invited to get involved as supernumeraries and volunteers.  An annual international vocal competition is conducted in November with finals generally drawing artists throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Verismo Opera also organizes opera workshops, master classes and concerts and offers affordable, highly professional productions.

For more information about the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, visit Verismo Opera's web site, www.verismopera.org or follow the company on Facebook, http://bit.ly/9JXTP8, or Twitter @NJVerismoOpera; or call (201) 886-0561.