Opera Night Long Island, an open mic night event that bring together talented singers with different repertoire and styles, has returned after a pandemic hiatus at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Northport. Singers hail the event as a way to help keep music alive for the community. Credit: Howard Simmons

Every second Friday of the month the sounds of Puccini, Verdi and Mozart can be heard emanating from the sanctuary of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Northport. 

Accomplished veterans and budding tenors and sopranos preparing for their big break can be heard singing arias from popular operas such as “La Boheme” and “Norma” as they perform in Opera Night Long Island, an open mic night using the venerable art form that tells stories through singing and music.

Those who love opera or are interested in finding out more about it are in luck. In an effort to regain its following after the COVID-19 pandemic, Opera Night Long Island has unveiled a new program.

“As a comeback we’re going back to $10 donations and as a series to be held every second Friday at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church,” said Isabella Eredita Johnson, director and founder of the nonprofit Opera Night Long Island. “People want affordable local concerts to attend, and that’s what we want to give them.”

Eredita Johnson, of Northport, said previously that concerts were held monthly on first Fridays at a cost of $20. The money raised will go to the church and to the performers.

Eredita Johnson started Opera Night Long Island in 2004.

“At the time I was going to open [mic] nights for folk musicians and comedians,” she said. “I said why can’t we have an open night for opera singers?”

Eredita Johnson said it was a winning formula because at the time there were no other venues on Long Island that presented opera on a regular basis. 

As the quality of the performers in the free concerts increased, organizers began asking for donations, at first $5 and then reaching $20. As the cost rose, attendance decreased.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. During the ensuing shutdown virtual performances were held. In 2021 there were no performances. In-person performances resumed in March, but audience attendance was a bit low.

Eredita Johnson and her board realized first Fridays were in conflict with other art programs in the Town of Huntington, and that they needed to come up with a plan to attract more people. That’s when Second Fridays was born.

Kimberly Iannuzzi, of Manhasset, a soprano who has been singing at Opera Night Long Island since 2004 and now sits on its board of directors, said her connection with the organization has been a good experience and can be the same for others.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for younger singers to be able to sing their arias prior to major auditions for a company," she said. “It gives them that experience to be out there and be heard.” 

Arthur Lai is a tenor from Hempstead who has been singing at Opera Night Long Island for 12 years. He said it’s not only a musical treat for the performers.

“It’s also good for people who come and listen and want to learn more about opera,” Lai said. “And it’s local and inexpensive, so there is no reason not to go.”

OPERA NIGHT LONG ISLAND

What: Open mic night is held every second Friday of the month.

Where: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 270 Main St., Northport.

Time: Doors open at 7 p.m., and the program begins at 7:30 p.m.

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