Box Office Manager, Mark Stevens
727-823-2040 ext. 1
Arts and Development Associate, 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
Chief Financial Officer, Nancy J. Preis
727-823-2040 ext. 4
Executive and Artistic Director, Mark Sforzini
727-823-2040 ext. 5
Marketing, Nancy J. Preis
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Board President – Belinda Dumont
Vice President – Diane Bailey Morton
Treasurer – Dr. Nancy J. Preis
Secretary – Irene Athos
J. Richard Caldwell, Jr.
Lee D. Davisson
Mirella Cimato Smith
Norman R. Smith
A modern-day Renaissance man, Mark Sforzini is currently the Artistic and Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Opera and Music Director of the Tampa Bay Symphony. Since 2005, he has conducted more than forty fully staged operatic and theatrical productions around the country to 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, Jim Harper). “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.” (Ash Lawn Opera, Fiddler on the Roof – The Daily Progress, Clare Aukofer)
Sforzini conducts a full range of repertoire: orchestral, chamber, and pops, in addition to Broadway and opera. He has appeared as guest conductor with groups such as Ash Lawn Opera, Crested Butte Mountain Theater and Auburn Symphony Orchestra and locally with Sunstate Opera, Northside Baptist Church, University of South Florida as well as serving as 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. He played eleven seasons as principal bassoon at the Crested Butte Music Festival where he was also the Composer-in-Residence in 2003 and many more of his compositions have been commissioned and premiered in years since. He has premiered a number of new compositions as both bassoonist and conductor, and is in demand for coaching singers, composers and instrumentalists.
His 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, St. Petersburg College, 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).
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.”
Chief Financial Officer: Nancy Preis
A Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in accounting and finance, Nancy was an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Business and was an investment banker in New York. She spent 25 years as Chief Executive Officer of Sensor Systems, L.L.C., Fisher Electric Technology, and Motor Magnetics Inc. She has served on the boards of the St. Petersburg Opera Co., The Florida Orchestra and the Bayfront Health Foundation and is currently on the board of the Sunken Gardens Forever Foundation, where she created the speakers bureau and was a tour guide for over ten years. She is managing trustee of the Baumker Charitable Foundation. She won the 2011 Cultural Award from the Florida Suncoast Opera Guild and has been recognized by Leadership St. Pete for her volunteer activities. She is currently General Director of the Opera of the Ozarks, a summer training program for young singers.
Contact Nancy Preis at email@example.com
Arts & Development Associate: 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