Wednesday, January 29th 2020


About The Open Opera Project

The Open Opera Project was founded to help expose more people to the world of opera, offering access to digital files, as well as affording existing opera fans a way to share, not only their music, but their passion with others. The project also seeks to provide an alternative to the dwindling influence of classical music on terrestrial radio by providing a platform for users to broadcast their own channels and shows.

Why The Project exists

In today’s fast moving world, the vast knowledge of the past is easily forgotten. Stars who were once revered for their incredible talents are forgotten in favor of new ones. Sometimes, as is the case today, we find ourselves in a world, where for whatever reason, there really earn’t any opera stars like there were in the golden age. There are archives of movies, books, old coke bottles, and the internet itself, but prior to this project, no digital archive existed to preserve the vast array of music, much of which is in the public domain, that has only been available on dusty records in hidden collections for decades.

Without history, society has no memory and no way to learn from its successes and failures. Cultural history is no different. Without acknowledging and experiencing the art of the past, the future of art is stifled and unable to explore new heights.

The Open Opera project is working to bring the stars and art of the past into the forefront and bring open and free access to people all over the world.

As a tool for study and education, Open Opera project can be a veritable fount of knowledge for music students.
As a vocal student and performer, Regina Fiorito spent many hours with teachers and coaches to perfect her art form. She was urged to listen, listen, listen to the operatic voices of her era as well as those of the past. Traditions are important to carry on and one way to learn them is by listening. Regina was fortunate to live in New York City where the availability of live opera was abundant. Not every aspiring singer and musician has that opportunity readily available. Open Opera project can be a learning tool for aspiring young singers. Here, at their fingertips, singers can experience a wealth of examples of the art of the human voice. The human voice is not like any other instrument as it is unique to each individual. The flaws in a voice can be used to great dramatic advantage by a gifted singer. A perfect example might be the veiled quality, at times, of Maria Callas’s voice. The dramatic tenor singing slightly sharp when executing their final high B flats and C’s, just listen to Pavarotti and Domingo, to add dramatic tension to the aria. One has to listen to the artists to experience and learn. Listening to the same opera executed by different singers and conductors can be an enlightening experience.

Regina and Anthony Coggi spent many hours attending the performances of young, budding artists in the New York City area. They faithfully attended concerts, recitals and complete opera performances in all the boroughs and then critiqued them on their radio program. Education of the young performers was very important to both Regina and Tony. They both knew many artists personally, Lucine Amara, Chet Ludgin, Franco Corelli, to name but a few. Their volunteer work at the Metropolitan Opera Archives attested to their devotion to the preservation of the operatic art form.

Leland “Chick” La Ganke would have reveled in the opportunity to explore and use a site such as Open Opera project. He listened with rapt attention to radio programs such as Martin Sokols’s “Through the Opera Glass, Anthony Coggi’s “A Box at the Opera” and Stefan Zucker’s radio program broadcast from Columbia University’s radio station. Stefan’s program was a weekly tour de force lasting 5 hours. He would have well know famous artists as guests like Franco Corelli and showcase cult opera figures such as Magda Olivero. Chick once joined Stefan on the air with a program devoted to the art of Rosa Ponselle. Chick understood all too well the importance of bringing opera to the young aspiring talents coming up through the ranks. Chick also used his own extensive collection to educate, not only his young dramatic soprano wife, but invited other young artists to come to their home and listen to the specific selection in his collection that might benefit them.
With Open Opera project one could customize a learning – listening program that would accommodate any young artist’s wishes to the best advantage.

Passionate opera devotees had radio programs like those listed above, but even with todays highly technical abilities, nothing exists for opera lovers to turn to. Stefan Zucker, the only person mentioned previously who is still living, has no outlet to further his opera projects. Stefan did produce a few opera hi-lites of past divas for PBS television. To access them one would need to plumb PBS archives, as they are not readily available. Now Open Opera project is here to provide operafiles the opportunity listen and enjoy to their hearts content.

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