The Finger Lakes Opera will present two performances of Puccini’s "Tosca" on Aug. 11 and Aug. 13 at Canandaigua Academy on East Street.
CANANDAIGUA — In just more than six months, the hills surrounding Canandaigua will be alive with the sound of arias and leitmotifs as the Finger Lakes Opera presents Giacomo Puccini’s "Tosca" in a special appearance at Canandaigua Academy.
How quickly the echoes of that performance will fade remains to be seen — as administrators are pondering making the opera's move to Canandaigua a lasting one.
The Finger Lakes Opera, presently based out of SUNY Geneseo, will present two performances of Puccini’s "Tosca" on Aug. 11 and Aug. 13 at Canandaigua Academy on East Street.
For the past three summers, the opera company has performed solely at SUNY Geneseo, with productions last year of "La Traviata" and "I Love A Piano" at the University. This year, however, with a new administration and plans for the campus to undergo some construction, founder and Artistic Director Gerard Floriano decided it might be time to look for a new location.
"I have performed at the Academy as guest conductor of the RPO, and I have worked with the fine musicians of the Music Department at CA on two separate occasions, so I am well aware of the excellent venue that is CA," Floriano wrote in an email to the Daily Messenger
The opera's technical director, Gordon Estey, played an important role in selecting CA. Being a lifelong resident of Canandaigua and respected theater tech professional, Estey was asked to help design the school's theater in 1988. In 1992, when the new high school was completed, Estey was hired as theater manager, a position he still holds, though he will be retiring come June.
"[Floriano] did look at other venues, but after calling me, realized that the Academy is really a well-equipped commercial theater in a high school," Estey said. "The theater is technically more advanced, more modern, much more comfortable for show patrons as well as more production space and back stage amenities than any of the theaters in Geneseo and in this immediate area as well."
In regards to having the production based out of Canandaigua, Floriano said he is excited.
“[Canandaigua] is perfect for what we do as far as it is already a summertime destination,” he said, “and the cultural offerings and ambiance are a great fit.”
Estey also said that another reason Canandaigua was selected is the future opening of the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center. The new commercial theater is expected to seat 450 spectators and house gallery, catering, rehearsal and classroom spaces.
The opera company also has plans to expand its summer season into a festival with multiple performances held at various venues as well as increase its presence in the area year-round, Estey said. In his opinion, "Canandaigua really fills the bill for FLO and their vision."
Karen Miltner of Finger Lakes Visitors Center agrees and said the arts and entertainment culture is part of what makes Ontario County unique.
“FLO should find a ready audience among our visitors as well as residents,” she said. “It adds to the long list of great things for cultural aficionados to do in Ontario County.”
Floriano founded the opera company four years ago. Noticing that there was not a professional summer opera festival in the area, Floriano began working with Christopher Dahl, then-president of SUNY Geneseo, to start his own. The opera was up and running the next year with a production of Georges Bizet’s "Carmen."
Floriano has had years of experience in the field of music performance. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and SUNY Geneseo, Floriano has toured the world conducting and has performed over 35 full-length operas. He is currently the music director of the Rochester Chamber Orchestra as well as chair of the Department of Music and director of Choral Activities at SUNY Geneseo.
The opera's 2017 website is scheduled to launch in March. Tickets for "Tosca" will become available around the same time.