Alas, this is terrible news. I’ve had the pleasure of playing at the Amato Opera a couple of times over the last few years, and I join a lot of other people in being sorry to see it go.
Tony Amato is one-of-a-kind, a real inspiration, and there’s a pretty good case to be made for the company not being the same if he retired. Here are a couple of anecdotes.
One performance I played last year, Tony was conducting. He’d vigorously cue every entrance, and did the prompting (feeding the singers their lines as they went along). He also shot down a few steps to the control panel to open and close curtains, worked the lighting, and did the sound effects. He ran the raffle at intermission, and spent a lot of time before and after greeting the patrons. Running around like whirlwind at age 87.
Another time I was asked to play in “La Boheme.” My daughter C. really likes Boheme and asked to come along. “I’m sure we can get you a ticket,” I said. Well we got there and it was a sell-out. Had been sold out for weeks, as a matter of fact. Tony spoke to someone, and they found an extra chair and set it up behind the back row for her.
So besides his talent and energy, he is a warm and generous person too. I hope that, during this last season, I get one more call to come in and sub for someone. It would be a great memory.