Maestro Mark Sforzini is not merely a visionary leader who established an innovative and successful nonprofit business (although he is, and he did). He is a composer whose orchestral and chamber works have been commissioned and performed by the Florida Orchestra, Tampa Bay Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Eastern Music Festival, Toledo Symphony Orchestra and numerous others. He has written and produced several one-act opera and music programs based on operatic repertoire. Sforzini’s acclaimed Concerto for Clarinet and Bassoon debuted in 2018.
The Alabama native served as principal bassoon of the Florida Orchestra from 1992 to 2007. He was the artistic director of the prestigious Encore Series of chamber music at the Palladium Theater for several years. He co-founded FloriMezzo in 2003, serving as its artistic director for five years. In addition, he was Music Director of the Pinellas Youth Symphony and a composer-mentor for Hillsborough County Schools.
In 2005, he was invited to guest-conduct a one-time production of Madama Butterfly at the Palladium Theater. And so, St. Petersburg Opera Company was born.
Far from resting on his considerable laurels, Sforzini continues to stretch, to test the boundaries of what an opera company can and should be. Each season brings several lavishly staged and fully orchestrated productions of classic operas, pops and cabaret shows, a children’s introduction to opera, seasonal showcases, and other vastly entertaining offerings.
In addition to his duties as St. Pete Opera’s general manager, chief visionary, arranger, and conductor, Maestro Sforzini is in demand as an adjudicator, clinician, and chamber music coach. Since 2012, he has been music director and conductor of the Tampa Bay Symphony and established a Call for Scores Competition to promote 21st-century works by composers worldwide. Mark Sforzini was chosen by Musical America as one of 30 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.”
Carol joined SPO in 2021 as box office lead, and moved up to operations director in 2022. She returned to St. Petersburg after 15 years of working as a non-profit executive in northern California.
She graduated with a BA in mass communications from USF, Tampa and worked as a reporter and editor for the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times before opening her own business, Anastasia’s,an event planning and retail business in St. Petersburg.
She is an ardent gardener and is establishing a habitat garden and raising butterflies. When not working in the yard, she reads obsessively and enjoys hiking and camping.
A multi-talented multi-tasker, Michael is the liaison between our artists, their managers and agents, and the St. Pete Opera.
He administrates and proctors our annual auditions in New York City and in St. Petersburg, negotiates and writes artist contracts, and keeps their needs met and their best interests served.
Michael is a native of northern lower Michigan; he arrived in Tampa Bay in 1984 and joined SPO in 2012. Michael is a gourmet cook who spent 25 years in the wine business. “Good wine and good food are still constants in my life,” he says. “And travel – I love to travel!”
Karl started with SPO as a German language coach and took on his production role in 2014. He contracts with all orchestra personnel, and manages all production schedules and crew, stage management, designers, stage design and construction, wig/makeup, and stage direction. Karl is an inspired stage director for selected operas, most recently, Semele, La Fille de Regiment, and Fidelio.
Karl has been a director of artistic administration at Florida Grand Opera, education director at Sarasota, and an Opera America Fellow. He has a B.A. in theatre arts from Loyola University of Chicago and an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix.
He also writes and has prepared the projected English titles for over 50 operas. He was married to his wife Debra for 32 years and has two children and five grandchildren.
Cecelia Messina has been a part of the SPO family since 2017, when she and her family welcomed out-of-town performers as housing hosts. Cecelia joined SPO as an Administrative Assistant position in 2021. In November 2022, she moved into the business office and is currently the Business Manager processing donations and managing the day-to-day finances.
Susan came to the opera in 2019 to help out for a few months and is still with the company making sure our performers are housed with volunteer housing hosts. She has been a Freelance Musician, Oboe Teacher, Contract and Grant Administrator at the University of California – Berkeley, Stay-at-Home mom, elementary school music teacher, and small business owner (Pinch-A-Penny stores). She plays oboe in the opera orchestra and other SPO musical productions.
She holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Oboe Performance from Northwestern University
Susan began playing oboe in the Tampa Bay Symphony in 2011, where she met conductor Mark Sforzini, who introduced her to the St. Pete Opera Company. She has been a devoted fan of the company since seeing the production of The Tales of Hoffman in 2017.
With her husband, she enjoys going around western Florida, visiting the National Parks on extended camping trips with their dachshund/chihuahua mix, Chester. The couple have two grown children.
Teresa has worked with the opera since 2009, and joined the company as a full-time staff member in 2023.
Her performances have graced 40 Mainstage operas, as well as many other opera productions. She has a
Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in Piano Performance, USF, Tampa and completed Piano accompaniment study in Salzburg, Austria, and the University of Miami.
In addition to her role as company pianist, she assists Maestro Mark Sforzini with arrangements, program content and chorus rehearsals and much more.
She has two children: Halina, 21 and Randolph, 19, who have sung with SPO on multiple occasions.
She enjoys biking, walking, swimming, singing, cooking, admiring art, and enjoying the beauty of nature.