A Valentine's Luncheon

February 17th at 1pm

Don't miss "Music and Words of Love" - Opera Orlando's 7th annual Valentine's program at the home of John & Audrey Ruggieri, February 17th, 2019 with lunch at 1pm and musical program at 2pm (desserts to follow).  This year's concert features soprano Susan Hellman Spatafora, tenor Samuel Hall, Johnathan Iverson, Alex Mansoori, and baritones Gabriel Preisser and Ben Ludwig with internationally renowned violinist Ayako Yonetani and pianist Robin Jensen. The program includes excerpts from Turandot, Tosca, and other beloved works.

Tickets are $150 a piece and include lunch and dessert

$125 for Ambassadors

Valet parking provided

Location: 5083 Isleworth Country Club Dr., Windermere, FL


SusAn Hellman spatafora - Soprano


Susan Hellman Spatafora exudes a “youthful freshness combined with an ardent sense of phrasing and a thrilling top register.” Known for her winning interpretations of Puccini's soprano heroines, Ms. Hellman has performed Mimi in La Bohème with Palm Beach Opera and Sarasota Opera, as well as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Central City Opera. Engagements in the season included appearances as soprano soloist with the Tampa Oratorio Society in Verdi’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, as well as an Evenings and Mornings with the Maestro concert series with St. Petersburg Opera, and a concert for the Young Patronesses of the Florida Grand Opera. Ms. Hellman was recently heard as soprano soloist in a recital with the IlluminArts song series in Miami, FL, a performance of Andrea Clearfield’s The Long Bright with the North Carolina Women’s Voices Chorus, and the premiere of Allan Friedman’s With Perfect Faith at Duke University.  In previous seasons, she has been a soprano soloist in the Bach Magnificat with the Masterworks Chorus of the Palm Beaches and has sung a concert tour with the Arrowhead Chorale in Duluth, MN. 

Ms. Hellman has performed with opera companies such as Glimmerglass Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, and Vermont’s Green Mountain Opera.  Her featured roles have included Susannah in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Micaëla in Carmen, Mimì in La Bohème, Clotilde in Norma, and Giannetta in L’Elisir d'Amore.  She has covered the roles of Marzelline in Fidelio, Liù in Turandot, La Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro and Violetta in La Traviata, among others.  Ms. Hellman’s international credits include performances with the Opera Theater Festival of Lucca, and EPCASO in Oderzo, Italy. Ms. Hellman was an apprentice with Glimmerglass Opera, Central City Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and Sarasota Opera.  She was awarded the Darla Mabee Larson Memorial Award for her outstanding performance of Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly with Central City Opera.   She has also been recognized for her rich soprano voice as a prize winner in competitions including the Florida Grand Opera Young Patronesses of the Opera competition, the Palm Beach Opera International Vocal Competition, and the National Society of Arts and Letters Voice Competition.Ms. Hellman received her Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University and Master’s degree from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.


Gabriel Preisser - Baritone

Critically acclaimed by the NY Times and Opera News, Gabriel Preisser originally hails from Apopka, FL.  He has over 30 leading roles under his belt from Harold Hill to Don Giovanni with companies such as Opera San Antonio, Opera Naples, and the Colorado Symphony.  He is known for having created the role of Lt Gordon, a role he has performed with Minnesota Opera, Opera Philadelphia and Cincinnati Opera, in the Pulitzer Prize winning Silent Night which he has performed with Opera Philadelphia, Cincinnati Opera, and Minnesota Opera - the latter was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2013.  Upcoming he debuts with Opera Tampa and Michigan Opera Theatre and returns to the roles of Figaro and Billy Bigelow elsewhere.  He currently lives in Winter Garden, FL with his loving wife and son.


Robin Jensen - Piano

Robin Jensen is the founding director of The Florida Opera Theatre Youth Programs. During her four year tenure, the Youth choruses have performed with the Orlando Philharmonic’s productions of “Home For The Holidays”, “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Barber of Seville”,“Mahler Symphony #3” and “Tosca”.  Robin also serves as the Instructor of Collaborative Piano/Vocal Arts and the Music Director for the opera workshop program at the University of Central Florida. She is Co-Director of the UCF/FOT Summer Opera Institute and has over 30 years experience as a conductor, music director, stage director and teacher with such companies as Minnesota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Orlando Opera. 


Ayako Yonetani - Violin

Violinist Ayako Yonetani was born in Kobe, Japan and received her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School where she studied with Hyo Kang and the late Dorothy DeLay. Currently she is a full professor of violin and viola at the University of Central Florida and is also a member of Japan’s premier chamber ensemble, Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra. Yonetani is scheduled to play a concerto with the UCF Symphony Orchestra, the Slovak Philharmonic of Kosice in Kosice, Slovakia and the Uzhhorod Symphony in Ukraine this 2016-2017 season. This past September, Yonetani donated her services as the featured instrumental soloist and concertmaster for “One Voice Orlando: A Celebration in Song,” the benefit concert in response to the Pulse Nightclub Tragedy.