Opera in Florida > Opera Fusion’s Artistic Team & Founders
Co-founder and Executive Director, Birgit Fioravante, made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Opera Orchestra of New York singing Fricka in scenes from Wagner’s Ring Cycle. She has continued to perform in Florida in opera, concerts and recitals as well as appearing on radio and television. She has been a guest soloist with symphony orchestras and opera companies including Florida Grand Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. Birgit has turned her passion toward teaching with an active vocal studio for over twenty years. Many of her students have gone on to build vocal studios and performing arts ensembles of their own, to grace the stages of florida opera companies and beyond, such as the Metropolitan Opera and venues world-wide, as far as Moscow and Japan, and to garner Tony nominations in Broadway productions. Inspired by her experiences encountered on her musical journey, Birgit created the three-woman opera show Duelling Divas, a hilarious tribute to the art and personality of the opera diva that toured the country for over five years. In co-founding Opera Fusion in 2014, Birgit is proud to bring together local singers, artisans and audiences together to enjoy high quality operatic performances across south Florida.
Co-founder and Board President Dr. Xavier F. Garcia, baritone, has been practicing veterinary medicine at El Cid Animal Clinic in West Palm Beach for over 20 years. He is the current vice president of Save A Pet Florida. He started his operatic career with Palm Beach Opera under the direction of Maestro Anton Guadagno. His debut was in Verdi’s Macbeth where he had the opportunity to share the stage with the internationally-recognized soprano Ghena Dimitrova. From that moment he became a featured soloist for PBO appearing in almost every production under the baton of Maestro Gaudagno and other conductors. His operatic roles include Marcello in La Boheme, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Escamillo in Carmen, and the Mandarin in Turandot among others. Dr. García has also performed with the Fort Lauderdale Opera Guild and Gold Coast Opera, and was invited to perform with the Zarzuela foundation Pro Arte Gratelli in Miami, as the lead baritone in their productions of the Cuban Zarzuelas Cecilia Valdés and María La O.
Company Manager Catherine Perron assumed the position in June of 2019. In her role, Catherine oversees many aspects of operations, grant applications, coordination of fundraising, and production details. Catherine Perron is a third-generation native Floridian. In 1965, her mother took her to see The Sound of Music which is when she fell in love with singing Since then, she has attended the University of South Florida, studying applied voice and working her way through college using her technology skills. Realizing, however, that there might be better remuneration in pursuing technology as a career, she went on to use this facility in many different fields including law, education, event planning, insurance, and pharmaceuticals, most recently working for a local pharmaceutical company as a quality systems analyst. But she didn’t give up on music, continuing with lessons and singing at various churches as well as with the Florida Philharmonic Chorus. Over the last few years, looking for yet another area in which to use her knowledge and ability to acquire new skills, Catherine has achieved several certifications in the field of health and wellness, such as a Chopra Certified Vedic educator (yoga, meditation, Ayurveda), Mind/Body Eating Coach, Nutrition Coach, and Reiki Master Teacher. She is thrilled to be able to use her management and technology skills for the benefit of Opera Fusion!
Treasurer John Whittlesey, baritone, performs regularly in opera, concert, and recital, having appeared with Palm Beach Opera, Opera Fusion, Gulf Shore Opera, the South Florida Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, New England Light Opera, Cape Cod Opera, Longwood Opera, Chorus North Shore, Wellesley College, Trinity College, the Salisbury Singers, the Louisville Master Chorale, the Middletown Civic Chorus, the Master Chorale of South Florida, the Norton Museum of Art, and the Chamber Music Series for the Outer Cape. John’s operatic roles include Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, the Father in Hansel and Gretel, Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Silvio in I Pagliacci, Sam in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Robert Mission in Romberg’s The New Moon, Ben in Menotti’s The Telephone, Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, the Traveler in Britten’s Curlew River and Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. John has also created several roles in operas by Brian Hulse, Jeffrey Brody, David Paul Gibson, Roger Rudenstein, Thomas Oboe Lee, Charles Shadle, James Yannatos, and Michael Ross. John was the founder and artistic director for Intermezzo: The New England Chamber Opera Series, which produced contemporary chamber operas, including ten commissions in its twelve-year history. Recent performances include Handel’s Messiah, Barber’s Dover Beach, Stephen Paulus’ The Three Hermits, Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Upcoming performances include a performance of Jake Heggie’s A Question of Light for Chamber Music for the Outer Cape. John joined the Board of Opera Fusion in 2017.
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