After 22 Years, Miami Lyric Opera Is Closing Its Doors

By Lawrence A. Johnson

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Raffaele Cardone founded Miami Lyric Opera in 2002 and has brought hundreds of opera performances to Miami audiences since then.

Miami Lyric Opera, the upstart troupe that provided idiomatic and often inspiring performances of Italian opera  and provided a career springboard for talented local artists is no more.

Raffaele Cardone, the founder and long-time general and artistic director of MLO has announced that he is closing the company down after 22 years. Last November’s double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Puccini’s Suor Angelica was the company’s final show.

Cardone said the main reason for closing the company was, no surprise, money difficulties.

“The principal reason is financing—not enough being available to make a decent production,” said Cardone. “Venue, labor, musicians and artist costs and others, have all increased.”

He also said that he has been put off by the revisionist stagings that so many companies are now presenting. “I have a great respect for the opera as originally conceived and accept updates as far as staging technology,” he said. “Nevertheless, I cannot accept the new tendencies being pushed to the audience.”

Miami Lyric Opera provided opportunities for budding opera singers, many of them local artists who have gone on to major careers. These include baritone Nelson Martinez and tenor Mario Chang, both of whom have sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (Chang also starred in Palm Beach Opera’s season-opening Tosca in January.)

Highlights over the last two decades include Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz with Chang, a terrific double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi. There was also an idiomatic and deftly staged La Cenerentola and a red-blooded Lucia di Lammermoor with Eglise Gutierrez, Martin Nusspaumer and Nelson Martinez singing their hearts out.

Cardone said he is looking forward to his long-belated full-time retirement.

“I am almost 90 and in excellent health,” he said. “I recognize that this is the right moment to retire from producing opera. 

“But I will continue to provide my experience to new talents while enjoying my grandchildren and listening to good music.”

Lawrence Budmen contributed to this report.

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