The Virginia Opera held its first Northern Virginia Spring Gala earlier in May in the education wing of the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

The gala included hors d’oeuvres, artistic performances, a catered dinner and a live auction. The audience of over 100 was entertained by three vocalists: Esther Atkinson, mezzo-soprano, Kyle Tomlin, tenor, and Joseph Mazzara, baritone, with Kelvin Ying on piano. The musicians are all associated with both the U.S. Army and Virginia Opera.

The gala, initiated by the opera’s new chair, Mary Postma, was designed to increase the opera’s presence in Northern Virginia. The State Opera Company of Virginia, or Virginia Opera, is going into its 49th year and has strong support in Norfolk and Richmond. 

Postma said she hopes to build the reputation of the opera and increase its audience size and donor base by creating a “Friends of the Virginia Opera” group in Northern Virginia.

As part of the entertainment Saturday evening, Mazzara sang “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” Tomlin followed with “Be My Love” by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodszky. 

Later in the dinner hour, Mazzara performed “On the Street Where You Live” from Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” and Atkinson sang “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera)” from “Carmen.” 

Tomlin and Mazzara combined to perform the duet, “Au fond du temple saint” from Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers.” The final set had Atkinson and Mazzara sing together “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” from Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun.” Tomlin closed the show singing “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot.  

Speakers included Peggy Kriha Dye, Virginia Opera CEO; Postma; Lisa Sands, the opera’s statewide director of development, and Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center.  

Davis announced that both the GMU Center for the Arts in Fairfax and the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas will feature the Virginia Opera in the 2023-24 season, as part of their “Matinee Idylls” series. 


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