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Nights at the Opera at a Fabled Sands Point Mansion

Imagine a music festival on the North Shore of Long Island that brings together highly talented artists performing a range of musical treats from chamber music, musical theatre, orchestral concerts, and opera... set in magical venues… and all at affordable prices. Daniel Klein, a thrilling baritone with a long list of credits and rave reviews, and Dr. Pamela Levy, the vocal director at Great Neck South High and faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory, have imagined such a shimmering possibility and have joined forces with the Board of the Sands Point Preserve and conductor, Anthony LaGruth, to present Three Amazing Nights of Opera to launch the concept.

On August 13, Tosca, Puccini’s masterpiece containing his most beloved arias, will be performed. Featured also that evening will be the Hempstead House Wurlitzer Opus 442 theatre organ.

On August 27, Don Pasquale, Donizetti’s light-hearted comic opera, will be performed in English.

On Sept. 17, I Pagliacci, Leoncavallo’s most frequently performed opera, will conclude the series.

Starring in the series will be Samia Bahu, lirico spinto soprano, whose glowing reviews highlight her acting skills along with her lilting high range and command of Italian. Tenor Adam Klein has sung leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Edmonton Opera and has been described in reviews as “stunning” with a voice filled with color and fluidity. Daniel Klein, with a rich baritone voice, is known in music circles as a most versatile singer and actor bringing to life menacing villains as handily as swaggering roles in comic light opera. The musical director, Anthony LaGruth, is currently serving as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Garden State Philharmonic, the Lyric Opera of San Antonio and the Shrewsbury Chorale.

According to the New York Theatre Organ Society, the Wurlitzer Opus 442 theatre organ, which will be featured in Tosca on August 13, was originally installed in a theatre in Niagara Falls, NY, and was removed from the theatre in the early 1970s by a private party for installation in a residence. The New York Theatre Organ Society stated that Ian McKenzie of St. James, Long Island, later acquired it for installation in his home, and in the late 1980s, the organ was donated to Nassau County Department of Parks and Recreation for installation in Hempstead House at the Sands Point Preserve. The New York Theatre Organ Society states that the organ has remained intact and original all of its life, and will be maintained that way as a demonstration of the engineering technology and sound that made the Wurlitzer name world famous. In speaking about this historical theatre organ, Jean-Marie Posner, Friends of the Sands Point Preserve Board Vice-Chair, said, “We are proud to include the Wurlitzer Opus 442 Theatre Organ as part of this music festival in the inaugural series for our new performing arts initiative.”

The enjoyment of each evening of top-rate performances will be heightened by the unique backdrop of the intimate setting in the piazza of the magnificent Hempstead House at the Sands Point Preserve overlooking Long Island Sound. The room is known for its outstanding acoustics as much as its elegance. Ms. Posner said, “The historic Hempstead House and the Castle Gould are magnificent performance venues, and we are currently programming a wide range of concerts and events for the future that will include traditional jazz performances, an international dance series, as well as classical music.”

Going into more detail on the historical Guggenheim Estate, Ms. Posner said, “Our organization deeply respects the cultural significance of what this Guggenheim Estate represented in the 1920s to 1940s. For years, it was an important social venue that attracted dignitaries, musicians, scholars, inventors and writers, just to mention a few. We are committed to preserving the history of this majestic Gold Coast estate by reinvesting the funds we raise to restore and protect the mansions, castles and grounds of the Sands Point Preserve.”

Preceding the performances, patrons may stroll through the Guggenheim Gardens and enjoy wines and a light supper with opportunities to meet the artists. After the opera, dessert and coffee will be served. The all-inclusive cost of each evening of opera and dining is $75 per person.

There are also opportunities for sponsorship of the events in a Playbill journal. For more detailed information about the various levels of support and information about purchasing tickets, please visit www.the­sands­pointpreserve.com or call 571-7901.

Although the organizers are focused on the upcoming operas, they already have an eye to the future for on-going North Shore Music Festival events. Their not-for-profit incorporation process is nearing completion and a number of enthusiastic music lovers from Great Neck, Port Washington and Roslyn are volunteering their time and energy to be in on the ground floor of an exciting adventure to bring cultural enhancement to the North Shore. Both Mr. Klein and Dr. Levy are thrilled that they can bring high caliber musicians to Long Island and its very special venues. Mr. Klein said, “The downturn in the economy has been difficult for musical artists and we are pleased to offer an opportunity for them to do what they love...to bring their talents to appreciative audiences right here on Long Island.”

If you would like more information about becoming involved in the North Shore Music Festival organization, please call Mr. Klein at (917) 720-7924 or visit the festival’s website at http://northshoremusicfestival.org.