Best Octogenarian Impresario on the Bowery (2008)

Tony Amato

Perhaps its a testament to the timelessness of classical music, or the fact that no ones ever used the expression Sex, drugs, and opera, but theres something to be said for the fact that CBGB is now a John Varvatos boutique while its neighbor, the venerable Amato Operawhich has made its home on the Bowery since 1961is still going strong under the leadership of its nearly 90-year-old impresario, Tony Amato. Dedicated to making high-quality opera affordable, the Italian-born Amato founded his opera company in 1948 with his late wife Sally to provide a training ground for young performers in full-length productions. Whether hes doing La Bohme or The Merry Widow, Amato always aims to put on a grand show similar to what youd see at the Metropolitanbut, of course, on a much, much smaller scale (before each production, the 107-seat theaters flickering electric chandeliers are raised). Its hard to say what will become of the tiny opera house once hes gone, though his niece, Irene Frydel Kim, and a crew of loyal volunteers vow to keep it going. But after recently seeing the still-youthful Amato in the orchestra pit, with his white hair flapping wildly as he conducted, its likely they wont have to anytime soon.


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