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Many members of the performing arts community deserve their merit: producers, directors, dancers, singers, performers, comedians, crew members, composers, musicians, actors/actresses, artists, costume designers, and so on. They all put together the extraordinary, memorable and  emotional performances, shows and spectacles. However, there is another member of the community that we must always welcome and appreciate: the spectator, the theatergoer. The spectator is the one who laughs, sobs, agonizes, admires, sings-a-long, falls in love and reacts in numerous other ways, while facing the front of the stage. The crowd is the one who captures what the performers are providing, keeping a specific character, scene, plot twist, or feeling as a lasting memory that connects with themselves in their unique way.

Such spectacles would not exist without the spectator. Spectator Stories is a series in which we share a few of the stories and memories shared by those who are passionate about facing the performing arts as the theatergoer.


Spectator Story: Teresa Ciuffreda

As an opera fan I only feel confident to appraise singers that I have actually heard live in performance. My interest began in the late 1970’s when I was first introduced to the bel canto repertory.

At that time Australian coloratura, Dame Joan Sutherland. was the premier proponent of the genre. Along with her husband, Richard Bonynge, they revived many operas, especially of Donizetti, which often included Luciano Pavarotti as the leading tenor. Bonynge had studied the techniques of the original bel canto singers and imparted them to his wife. It was this beautiful singing that was most responsible for my original devotion to the art form.

When my daughter was three or four, I bought a series of children’s video tapes featuring Joan Sutherland. These abridged operas of Lucia, Faust, and Rigoletto etc. featured Ms. Sutherland singing actual arias along with a cast of both human and puppet performers. These remain a lasting tribute to Dame Joan and her love of opera and desire to expose young people to its beauty. When she passed a little bit of me went with her.

Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne and Luciano Pavarotti were the main names of this particular night Teresa Ciuffreda remembers.

One of the playbills Teresa Ciuffreda kept decades later. The soprano Dame Joan Sutherland, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne and tenor Luciano Pavarotti performed at the Avery Fisher Hall (now named David Geffen Hall, at Lincoln Center) with the New York City Opera Orchestra, conducted by Richard Bonynge.


Would you like to share your own story, moment or memory as a fan of the performing arts? Shoot us an email!


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