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Best Octogenarian Impresario on the Bowery New York 2008 - Tony Amato

Perhaps it?s a testament to the timelessness of classical music, or the fact that no one?s ever used the expression ?Sex, drugs, and opera,? but there?s something to be said for the fact that CBGB is now a John Varvatos boutique while its neighbor, the venerable Amato Opera?which has made its home on the Bowery since 1961?is 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 he?s doing La Boh?me or The Merry Widow, Amato always aims to put on a grand show similar to what you?d see at the Metropolitan?but, of course, on a much, much smaller scale (before each production, the 107-seat theater?s flickering electric chandeliers are raised). It?s hard to say what will become of the tiny opera house once he?s 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, it?s likely they won?t have to anytime soon.

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