Box Office Manager, Mark Stevens
727-823-2040 ext. 1
Associate Director of Development, Susan Hellman Spatafora
727-823-2040 ext. 2
Artistic Administrator, Michael Roberts
727-823-2040 ext. 3
Production Coordinator, Karl W. Hesser
727-823-2040 ext. 4
Executive and Artistic Director, Mark Sforzini
727-823-2040 ext. 5
Production Assistant, Zach Twitty
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Board President – Belinda Dumont
Treasurer – Alexandra Bolton-Schultes
Secretary – Irene Athos
J. Richard Caldwell, Jr.
Lee D. Davisson
Mirella Cimato Smith
John T. Watts
Mark Sforzini is currently the Artistic and Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Opera and Music Director of the Tampa Bay Symphony. Sforzini began conducting opera in 2005 and founded St. Petersburg Opera in 2007. His conducting has received high critical acclaim: “Sforzini’s supple conducting of the orchestra provided perfect support, not only for the singers but also for the unfolding drama. The overture was crisp and expressive, as well.” (St. Petersburg Times). “Conductor Mark Sforzini blends 31 musicians and instruments into a single wave of music that can rush over you or gently flow, invisibly manipulating mood and scene, bringing out the best in the cast. You could go just for the music and not be disappointed.” (The Daily Progress – Charlottesville, Virginia).
Sforzini conducts a full range of repertoire: classic orchestral, pops, opera and Broadway. He was appointed Music Director of the Tampa Bay Symphony in 2012 and has established a Call for Scores Competition to promote 21st century works by composers around the world. He has appeared as guest conductor with groups such as Ash Lawn Opera, Crested Butte Mountain Theater, and the Auburn Symphony Orchestra and locally with Sunstate Opera, Northside Baptist Church, and the University of South Florida. Sforzini was conductor of the Pinellas Youth Symphony from 1999 – 2002 and FloriMezzo from 2002 – 2008. Prior to establishing his conducting career, Sforzini was principal bassoon of the Florida Orchestra for fifteen seasons. During his tenure with the Florida Orchestra, Sforzini was featured as a concerto soloist with the orchestra performing works by Mozart, Weber, Haydn and Vivaldi. He also performed Michael Daugherty’s Dead Elvis. The Florida Orchestra also premiered five of his compositions: A Journey in Orchestra (1997), Water Works – Aqua Rising (1999), Romanza (2004), Call Again Overture (2004) and Flibbertigibbet (2006).
He played eleven seasons as principal bassoon at the Crested Butte Music Festival where he was also the Composer-in-Residence in 2003. He has premiered many new compositions as both bassoonist and conductor including the Hilton Jones Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra (2006) and is in demand for coaching singers, conductors and instrumentalists. Additional ensembles he has performed with include the Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Opera, Opera Tampa, Tallahssee Symphony, Naples Philharmonic and Southwest Florida Symphony as well as the Cabrillo Festival in Santa Cruz, California.
Sforzini’s compositions have been performed by the Florida Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Alabama Symphony, Brevard Symphony, and Tampa Bay Symphony, as well as heard at the Eastern Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institution, the Toledo Symphony chamber concerts, Crested Butte, and in the Palladium Encore Series in St. Petersburg, of which Sforzini was Artistic Director for several years. His works were also featured at the University of Tampa when he was Composer-in-Residence in 2011.
Over the course of his career, Sforzini has taught at the Sewanee Summer Music Center and Kinhaven Music School as well as an adjunct at Florida College and St. Petersburg College. He has given master classes at Rice University (Shepherd School of Music), Florida State University, the St. Petersburg College Summer Vocal Institute, University of Tampa and frequently at St. Petersburg Opera as part of that organization’s Emerging Artists Program. He has served as an adjudicator for the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition, Walker’s Rising Stars and Florida Suncoast Opera Guild as well as a panelist for Voice Experience.
His stage directing credits include SPO’s 2011 production of Die Fledermaus, The Medium (2013) and Neapolitan Festival (2014). He has also crafted 10 years of semi-staged operatic revues for the St. Petersburg Opera Guild’s annual Silver Bells Gala. In 2008, he was awarded the Guild’s prestigious Cultural Achievement Award. In 2014, the Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letter recognized Sforzini’s artistic achievements with their annual Community Award.
Sforzini graduated Florida State University in 1991 with a bassoon performance degree and studied music at the Blossom Music Festival and Sarasota Music Festival. His primary bassoon teachers were John Hunt, David McGill, Sol Schoenbach and William Winstead; composition teachers – Edward Applebaum, Hilton Jones and Robert Helps; conducting teachers – Phillip Spurgeon, Thomas Wilkins, Michael Stern and Jens Georg Bachmann.
Sforzini was recently chosen by Musical America as one of thirty international industry professionals as a “Profile in Courage”. These top industry leaders have “taken a risk, spoken out where others were silent – all to the measurable benefit of their arts organizations and the field”.
Associate Director of Development: Susan Hellman Spatafora
Susan Hellman Spatafora divides her time between her arts administration and development career, and her performing career as an operatic soprano. She has a strong background in grants administration, having previously worked in New York City for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, GHS Philanthropy Management and The Paul Klebnikov Fund, among others. Ms. Spatafora has performed several roles with the St. Petersburg Opera, most recently Susannah in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Mimì in Seasonal Sparkle 2011 and 2012, and Micaëla in Carmen. Known for her winning interpretations of Puccini’s soprano heroines, Ms. Hellman has performed Mimì in La Bohème with Palm Beach Opera, Sarasota Opera, as well as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Central City Opera. She has received awards in the Palm Beach Opera Competition and Florida Grand Opera YPO Competition. Ms. Spatafora received her Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University, and Master’s degree from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.
Contact Susan Hellman Spatafora, Arts & Development Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Artistic Administrator: Michael Roberts
Contact Michael Roberts, Artistic Administrator, at email@example.com
Production Coordinator: Karl W Hesser
As Production Coordinator, Karl is able to use his decades of experience as an arts administrator, director, writer and educator. In Florida he has worked as Executive Director of the Lake Wales Arts Council, Director of Education for Sarasota Opera, and Director of Artistic Administration for Florida Grand Opera. He has also held the position of Vice President of the Wagner Society of Florida since 2008.
For St. Petersburg Opera, he has directed recent productions of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia Bizet’s Carmen, and Verdi’s Il trovatore, after making his debut as the Haushofmeister in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. He has written and prepared projected English translations for more than fifty operas, which have been used by opera companies and symphony orchestras around the country.
He has lectured extensively on many aspects of opera for Sarasota Opera, Ringling Museum and the Wagner Society of Florida
He has been a panelist judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Minnesota, South Carolina, Georgia and North Dakota. He has also served as judge for the vocal competitions of the Artists Series of Sarasota and the St. Petersburg Opera Guild.
In 1990-1991 Mr. Hesser was an OPERA America Administrative Fellow working in all phases of opera production at three of the nation’s opera companies.
Before devoting himself primarily to opera, he was active with several of the California regional theaters and spent nine years with two U.S. military community centers in Germany, working in both English and German. He has directed 28 productions including plays, musicals and operas.
Mr. Hesser received his B.A. in Theatre Arts from Loyola University of Chicago and his M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. In addition to his lectures and seminars, Mr. Hesser has taught both the performing and theatre arts.
Mr. Hesser was married to his wife Debra for 32 years and has two children, Alyxandra, a resident of Clearwater, and Mark. Mark, his wife Lauren and their three sons live in Sarasota.
Contact Karl W Hesser at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Box Office Manager: Mark Stevens
Mark’s very first opera singing experience happened last fall with the SPO when he approached the Maestro seeking a part-time accounting position similar to the one he holds at the freeFall theatre company. In that process, Maestro learned that Mark was a trained musician (Syracuse University), having sung with several groups over the years including the Grammy-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus and the New York Oratorio Society. Since his operatic coro debut in Il Trovatore, Mark continued with the SPO in the Seasonal Sparkle concert, The Elixir of Love, and now with The Tales of Hoffmann. Mark comes from a varied background having worked with Ice Capades and later in business, legal and real estate management, finance, magazine publishing and medical meeting planning. Mark is very pleased to be immersed in the vibrant arts community of the Tampa Bay area and loves his new opera career!
Mark is here to help you with all your St. Petersburg Opera tickets, and he’s always eager to get to know you better!
Contact Mark Stevens, Box Office Manager, at email@example.com