In the News – the Matthew Shepard musical drama


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See what people are saying about “Not In My Town”

the Matthew Shepard musical drama presented by Opera Fusion:

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SFGN Arts & Entertainment editor J.W. Arnold's 9/29/16 Review of Not In My Town


Huge Success…

Should Not Be Missed!

Ross’s score is lush, suggesting the film scores of Hans Zimmer or the contemporary romantic symphonies of Howard Hanson, performed beautifully by an 18-piece orchestra under the baton of Gordon Roberts.

Read the full review here:  Theatre: new-opera-offers-moving-musical-tribute-to-slain-gay-student

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Featured international article in Curve magazine about OperaFusion’s NOT IN MY TOWN musical drama by Michael Ross. 

September 2016

The heroine of Not In My Town is Romaine Patterson, Shepard’s friend and now an LGBTQA rights activist. She organized counter protests, with peaceful protesters clad in angel-wing costumes that blocked hate mongers and their signs, after the Westboro Baptist Church and Rev. Fred Phelps began picketing Shepard’s funeral and the subsequent trial of his killers.

Patterson said, “It is so imperative that works likeCurve Magazine Not In My Town article Not In My Town be shared to ensure that people understand the real impact of bias crimes in America. Matthew wanted to live his life helping others. We must all learn from Matthew’s story, and strive to be more kind to one another.”

This musical drama is the ‘perfect fit’ for Opera Fusion. According to Opera Fusion Executive Director Birgit Fioravante, “From my point of view this work has everything a new ‘opera’ should have – great music, great drama, a riveting story.”

Read the full Not In My Town Curve Magazine article here.


Kingston Native Gordon Roberts to conduct world premiere in Florida

— Times Leader 9/4/2016

Even if people think they don’t like opera, Gordon Roberts said, they’re likely to appreciate “Not In My Town,” A new opera/theatrical piece that retells the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay student from the University of Wyoming who was brutally murdered in 1998.


Not in My Town gala preview  revisits Matthew Shepard story”

— Sun-Sentinel 6/1/2016

The work [Not in My Town], composed by Wilton Manors musician and teacher Michael Ross, tells Matthew Shepard’s story through the eyes of his best friend, Romaine Patterson. In 1998, two men beat and tortured University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in a homophobic hate crime, leaving him tied to a fence in a field outside of Laramie, Wyo.  Six days later, Shepard died from his wounds. The murder led to, a little more than 10 years later, Congress passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. (Byrd was an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year as Shepard’s murder.) President Obama signed the act into law in 2009.

Matthew Shepard musical drama: Not In My Town | Robyn Marie Lamp
Robyn Marie Lamp sings at fundraising preview of arias from Matthew Shepard musical drama, Not In My Town. (Frances Suzanne Hindle / Courtesy)


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Matthew Shepard Opera to Receive World Premiere

— South Florida Gay News  6/1/2016

“Not In My Town” will be premiered by Opera Fusion, an innovative new performing arts company, featuring seven principals, a double chorus and 18-piece orchestra under the direction of Gordon Roberts. 

Ryan Townsend performs the role of Matthew Shepard
Photo Credit: Frances Suzanne Hindle | The opera “Not in My Town” stars, from left, Ryan Townsend as Matthew Shepard and Robyn Marie Lamp as Romaine Patterson. Musical director and conductor Gordon Roberts is at far right.


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Starry night: Opera Fusion supporters hear selections for new show

— Palm Beach Daily News 4/18/2016

The stars shined brightly when 200 people gathered to enjoy Opera Under the Stars [an Opera Fusion fundraiser] April 4 at Kimberly and Frederic Boyer’s Hampton Green Farm in Wellington.

Matthew Shepard musical drama: Not In My Town. Fundraiser in Wellington.
Photo by Frances Suzanne Hindle | From left, Christina Matson, Kim Boyer, Mitzi Presnell, Joan Javits Zeeman, Birgit Fioravante and Jeanne Chisholm attend the Opera Under the Stars benefit April 4 at Hampton Green Farm in Wellington for Opera Fusion’s “Not In My Town,” a new opera about Matthew Shepard.

Mary Fisher, author, activist, Not In My Town, Matthew Shepard Musical
photo courtesy of Mary Fisher, author and activist, who spoke on April 4, 2016 at fundraiser in Wellington for the new Matthew Shepard musical drama, “Not In My Town”

Musical evening: Palm Beacher to keynote Opera Fusion fundraiser  

— Palm Beach Daily News 4/4/2016

Author, activist and former Palm Beacher Mary Fisher will be the keynote speaker at 6:30 p.m. today [April 4, 2016] at Opera Under the Stars, a fundraiser for Opera Fusion’s upcoming production of Not In My Town, a musical based on the life of Matthew Shepard  at Hampton Green Farm in Wellington.   


Photo by Carol Carnevale

Matthew Shepard musical drama fundraiser for Not In My Town
Photo by Carol Carnevale | ABOVE: Opera Fusion stars on Friday, March 18 at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington. (L-R) Baritone Xavier Garcia, soprano Robyn Marie Lamp, pianist Gordon Roberts, mezzo-soprano Christina Overton, tenor Lievens Castillo and soprano Birgit Djupedal Fioravante.


April 4 Fundraiser In Wellington To Aid Opera Fusion Project  — Town Crier 3/25/2016

This musical drama about Matthew Shepard addresses bullying — a subject that’s in the news every day, said Opera Fusion president Dr. Xavier Garcia, a baritone and West Palm Beach veterinarian. “Our kids are bullied constantly, and they are either killed, or they commit suicide, or they are scarred for life,” he said. “Mathew was killed because he was gay, but Matthew Shepard is anyone who has been affected by a hate crime.”



South Florida Artists Are Making LGBTQ Hate Crimes Story Into an Opera” 

—  Broward Palm Beach New Times 11/12/2015

Matthew Shepard’s story was pivotal for the gay movement in America, as it drew attention to hate crimes perpetrated against people for their sexuality. On October 7, 1998, two men abducted University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, pistol-whipped and tortured him, and tied him to a fence in a field outside Laramie, Wyoming. After a cyclist discovered Matthew, the comatose Shepard was taken to a hospital, where days later he would succumb to his injuries and pass away.  Matthew Shepard’s two killers were sentenced to life in prison. 

Matthew Shepard
Wikimedia Commons — Pictured Matthew Shepard |

The Sopranos A Hit For Opera Fusion —  Town Crier 4/24/2015

Opera Fusion presented “The Sopranos” on Saturday, April 18 at the Wellington High School theater as a fundraiser for Save a Pet Florida. The two-hour show featured sopranos Laura Martínez León, Dora Cardona, Ravenna Maer and Gerri Kinley, joined on stage by male singers Lievens Castillo and Ardean Landhuis, and also Opera Fusion founders Birgit Fioravante and Dr. Xavier Garcia.

Posted at Town Crier, follow link above for more pictures

Opera Fusion Bringing ‘The Sopranos’ To Wellington April 18  —  Town Crier 4/10/2015

“That’s what is so great about this, is that we really work well together, since our vice president, Dr. Garcia, not only is a veterinarian, he is also an opera singer,” Wells [president of Save a Pet] said of the connection between Opera Fusion and Save a Pet.

Wells is glad that the core group who performed for Save a Pet last year decided to form their own company, which became Opera Fusion.

“It’s just really heartwarming that this was the result of it,” Wells said, adding that she is excited to be working with the talented singers again.


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