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Meet Birgit Djupedal Fioravante of Opera Fusion

Today we’d like to introduce you to Birgit Djupedal Fioravante.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a nonprofit artist-driven startup company, our mission is to make the classical voice accessible and affordable to a wider segment of South Florida. We support local artists, and they support us in return. Together, we offer educational outreach, showcase local talent in intimate and nontraditional venues, use pared-down staging to keep ticket prices low, and bring artists and audiences together. We also continually perform concerts and entertain at public and private venues throughout South Florida.

In our first season, we put on two musical revues, “The Sopranos: An Opera You Can’t Refuse” and “Duelling Divas”, as well as a full production of Bela Bartok’s opera “Bluebeard’s Castle”. We opened the next season with scenes from “Cosi Fan Tutte”/”Die Fledermaus” in a summer “BootCamp: Emerging Artist Project” in Fort Lauderdale followed by “Viva La Zarzuela” master classes and concert at Florida International University in Miami. Last season’s endeavor, the fully-staged world premiere of “Not In My Town”, is by far Opera Fusion’s largest production to date, a full production with 24 singing actors on stage and full orchestra. This contemporary opera by Fort Lauderdale’s Michal W. Ross, was drawn from the actual events surrounding a horrific hate crime and the resistance movement that it engendered. “Not In My Town premiered at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and at Florida Atlantic University to rave reviews. This season we opened with our second “BootCamp: Emerging Artist Project” and we continue to present beautiful music to South Florida audiences.

Our mission statement: Opera Fusion celebrates the beauty and expressiveness of the human voice and builds new audiences with fresh and innovative productions for an exciting theatrical experience.

Our slogan: “Experience the Power of the Voice with Opera Fusion”

Background: Dr. Xavier Garcia asked me to help him put on a fundraiser for Save-a-Pet Florida back in 2014. It was a program of operatic favorites, American standards and Broadway classics with a group of local singers. It was such a success that several people came up to us to offer to help us start and opera company, saying that was the most fun they have had at any “classical” performance in well, forever. Having thought about this for years, I analyzed what was so special about the concert. Three things, a small, cozy venue, the eclectic choice of music with lots of luscious moments, and beautiful voices that were able to do the music full justice. I have watched my beloved art form’s audience dwindle in the 30 years I have been involved. Starting a boutique opera company might be just the thing, and after some research, I found that smaller artist-driving companies were popping up all over the country. So, along with one of our founders who approached us at that first concert, Xavier and myself we formed Opera Fusion.

We do everything even our biggest productions on a shoe-string, all of us rolling up our sleeves to get the job done. South Florida is richly blessed with a lot of talented singers and we only use singers from South Miami to West Palm Beach for our performances, giving them opportunities as well as a check for their work. I am proud of that.

Has it been a smooth road?
We have had great artistic and critical success, All the press we have had has been positive. The audiences we have had have always been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, One phrase we hear over and over again is “I didn’t think I liked opera (opera singers) but I just loved this!” or “It gave me goosebumps”. We always aim to be goosebumps-worthy.

The difficult has been to get audiences to take a chance on us and opera, finding ways to reach new audiences. It is something that established opera companies struggle with and the future of our art form depends on us and others finding a solution to this.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Opera Fusion – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I have an ear for voices. I know when I hear that something that will excite an audience, will carry in a room. Part of it is the personality of the singer and the ability to express emotion and some of it is just raw voice. I know it when I hear it and see it, and I look for ways to get those singers in front of an audience. That is one thing I am proud of. The other thing I am particularly proud of is my insistence from the beginning that we always pay our performers decently. Most companies starting out pay everyone but the singers. Singers are hungry for opportunities so they often agree to sing for next to nothing or nothing. We also have had two professional level training programs, of which there are hundreds across the country and internationally. Only a handful offer training tuition-free. We are one of the few. We raise the money and don’t take it off the backs of the singers. I am very proud of that.

We are a boutique opera company and we can choose to do small programs that highlight one interesting aspect of our art form. Grand opera is an amazing, multi-faceted art form, thrilling when it is done right. We don’t pretend we can accomplish that on our shoe-string budget. What we can accomplish is to excite a smaller audience with the idea of the human voice sailing on a glorious melody into their hearts, directly. I am proud of that.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the diversity of South Florida, all the many cultures coming together. It is a very exciting, vibrant place, full of flavor.

What I like least about South Florida there is a transient nature in the community as many come and go. It is sometimes difficult to get people to honor commitments. I lived in NYC for ten years and it is very different.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

F. Suzanne Hindle
Kristin Pulido

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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