The History of Finger Lakes Opera

On a brilliant summer’s day in 2012 on the campus of the State University of New York at Geneseo, Finger Lakes Opera, Inc., was born. Artistic Director and Founder Gerard Floriano and then SUNY Geneseo President Christopher Dahl envisioned creating a summer professional opera festival in the heart of the Finger Lakes, where outstanding singers, designers and directors could come together to create bold new productions of grand operatic masterpieces resplendent with spectacular sets, dazzling costumes, inventive staging, all accompanied by a professional orchestra. Floriano and Dahl also envisaged the company enlivening the local community through its residency and by the potential 2000 plus attendees who would come for productions each summer. For three years, Finger Lakes Opera (FLO) presented fabulous productions under SUNY Geneseo’s umbrella.

In the middle of the 2016 Season, SUNY Geneseo opted not to continue the partnership. FLO’s advisory council believed in Floriano and Dahl’s original vision and was committed to its continuation. Thus, within several months, the council secured 501(c)(3) status to continue operating as a non-profit arts organization. A board was formed, by-laws were created, and articles of incorporation drawn up.

In addition to incorporating, FLO also needed to find a new performing home, and Canandaigua answered the call. Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes, this community is a beautiful location for summer opera performances. The name Canandaigua is derived from the Seneca (Kanandarque, Ganandogan, Ga-nun-da-gwa, or Konondaigua). In a modern transcription, the historic village is rendered as tganǫdæ:gwęh, meaning the chosen spot. FLO believes both are well suited for each other. Performances are currently held in the state-of-the-art theater at the Canandaigua Academy.

During the first three years as a new, non-profit organization, the board functioned not only as passionate advocates and active volunteers but also essentially staff. They, along with Artistic Director Gerry Floriano, were responsible for the planning and production of FLO’s two headlining programs as well as the light program, currently called Opera HITS! In the 2018 Season, FLO introduced its Young Artist Program which serves as a training ground for pre-professional singers. FLO auditions and selects 6-10 singers to participate; in return, these artists commit to a modest fee that covers housing, vocal workshops, masterclasses and, of course, the opportunity to perform alongside the seasoned professional artists of FLO. During the 2018 Season, FLO offered its first children’s production, Little Red’s Most Unusual Day, as a means to broaden its audience and begin introducing opera to young people.

In 2018 FLO secured a grant from the New York Council on the Arts (NYSCA) to support its first staff person, a part-time executive director. In late February, Elizabeth G. Long was hired to assume this position. Long has over ten years of fundraising and management experience in the non-profit performing arts business and began her tenure March 1, 2019.

The following is a listing of all productions and principal artists, designers, and directors since FLO’s inception.

SUMMER 2018

Johann Strauss Jr.’s Die Fledermaus
Opera Pops
  • Overture to Le nozze di Figaro – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • "Prendi per me" from L’elisir d’amore – Gaetano Donizetti
  • "Au fond du temple saint" The Pearl Fishers – Georges Bizet
  • Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana – Pietro Mascagni
  • "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto – Giuseppe Verdi
  • "Barcarolle" from The Tales of Hoffman – Jacques Offenbach
  • Humming Chorus from Madama Butterfly – Giacomo Puccini
  • Overture to Die Fledermaus – Johann Strauss Jr.
  • "Va pensiero" from Nabucco – Giuseppe Verdi
  • "They Say It’s Wonderful" from Annie Get Your Gun – Irving Berlin
  • "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" from Annie Get Your Gun – Irving Berlin
  • "Gee, Officer Krupke" from West Side Story – Leonard Bernstein
  • "Climb Ev’ry Mountain" from The Sound of Music – Richard Rodgers
Little Red’s Most Unusual Day

A captivating children’s opera aimed at introducing our young audiences to the wonderful world of opera.


SUMMER 2017

Puccini’s Tosca
  • Jennifer Rowley, as Tosca
  • Yeghishe Manucharyan, as Cavaradossi
  • Corey Crider, as Scarpia
  •  
  • Gerard Floriano, Conductor
  • Fenton Lamb, Stage Director
  • Jeff Ridenour, Scenic Design
  • Nic Minetor, Lighting Design

SUMMER 2016

Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata
  • Danielle Talamantes, as Violetta
  • Yi Li, as Alfredo
  • Mark Walters, as Germont
  •  
  • Gerard Floriano, Conductor
  • Fenton Lamb, Stage Director
  • Jeff Ridenour, Scenic Design
  • Nic Minetor, Lighting Design
Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano
  • Joseph Dellger, Baritone
  • Missy Dowse, Soprano
  • Michelle Liu Coughlin, Mezzo-soprano
  • Alan M-L Wager, Tenor
  •  
  • Gary John LaRosa, Stage Director
  • Aaron McAllister, Musical Director

SUMMER 2015

Gaetano Donizetti’s Elixir of Love
  • Andrea Carroll, as Adina
  • Rolando Sanz, as Nemorino
  • Liam Bonner, as Sergeant Belcore
  • Corey Crider, as Dr. Dulcamara
  • Angela Libertella Calabrese, as Gianetta
  •  
  • Gerard Floriano, Conductor
  • E. Loren Meeker, Stage Director
  • Laura Fine Hawkes, Scenic Design
  • Nic Minetor, Lighting Design
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing
  • Evan Jones, Baritone
  • Nathan Meyer, Tenor
  • Whitney Meyer, Soprano
  • Marisa Rivera, Mezzo-soprano
  • Hallie Silverston, Soprano
  •  
  • Gary John LaRosa, Stage Director
  • Aaron McAllister, Musical Director

SUMMER 2014

Georges Bizet’s Carmen
  • J’Nai Bridges, as Carmen
  • Gregory Kunde, as Don José
  • Luis Ledesma, as Escamillo
  • Danielle Pastin, as Micaela
  •  
  • Gerard Floriano, Conductor
  • E. Loren Meeker, Stage Director
  • Laura Fine Hawkes, Scenic Design
  • Nic Minetor, Lighting Design

SUMMER 2013

Gala Performance in August
  • Danielle Pastin, Soprano
  • Jessica Best, Mezzo-soprano
  • Rolando Sanz, Tenor
  • Evan Jones, Baritone
  •  
  • Gerard Floriano, Conductor
  •  
  • Finger Lakes Opera Orchestra