SPO STAFF

Maestro Mark Sforzini

Executive & Artistic Director
sforzini@stpeteopera.org

Eileen Healy

Chief Operations Officer
business@stpeteopera.org

Roger Curlin

Director of Development
development@stpeteopera.org

Michael Roberts

Artistic Administrator
office@stpeteopera.org

Karl W. Hesser

Production Specialist
karlhesser@stpeteopera.org

Zachary Twitty

Production Assistantr
zacharytwitty@stpeteopera.org

Susan Aspray

Housing Coordinatorr
housing@stpeteopera.org

Joshua N. Natonio

Marketing & Outreach Specialist
pr@stpeteopera.org

Carol Laughlin

Box Office Lead Associate
boxoffice@stpeteopera.org

Cecelia Messina

Administrative Assistant
welcome@stpeteopera.org

Staff Bios

Eileen is a St. Petersburg native, and takes particular pride in what she calls “the cultural flowering of my beautiful town; it’s very exciting to me to see the renaissance of this city that has come about in the last decade, especially in the arts, and St. Pete Opera is a big part of that rebirth.” When she’s not working with her team to make sure operations run smoothly at SPO, Eileen and her husband enjoy going to the theater, the symphony – and, of course, the opera. “I love to read, ride my bike and explore my neighborhood,” she explains. “I live close to Opera Central!”

Eileen’s quote: I grew up listening to opera on my father’s 78 records – he was a big Caruso fan – and we children had our own recordings of Hansel and Gretel and Peter and the Wolf. I still love the prayer duet from Hansel and Gretel. I’ve attended many opera performances, but I would say that I still have a lot to learn, and I look forward to the journey.

Roger is a multi-generational Floridian born in Tampa, raised in Brandon & Bradenton, and has called St. Petersburg home since 1999. As Director of Development, Roger works directly with Mark Sforzini and the team to amplify the mission and vision of the Opera. Raising funds is the lifeblood of most non-profits and as Roger likes to explain, “2/3rds of everything you see at the St. Petersburg Opera is made possible by the amazing and generous donor base.”

Prior to joining the Opera’s leadership team, Roger has helped found, fund, or grow numerous local business entities in the hospitality sector as well as mentoring a variety of companies and entrepreneurs in the bay area. He is also an attorney and an alum of Stetson Law School, where he graduated in 2002. After a brief stint practicing law, Roger spent most of his legal career coordinating continuing legal education for attorneys around the country.

His core philosophy for surviving and thriving in our rapidly evolving business and social environment is based on two concepts: Collaboration with the community and Engagement with your customers.

Roger’s quote: “From day one, the St. Petersburg Opera community made me feel welcome; the passion and compassion this supportive and extended family shows for the craft of Opera and each other is something rare and special.”

A multi-talented multi-tasker, Michael is the liaison between our artists, their managers and agents, and the St. Pete Opera organization. It is a challenging and crucial position. 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. The native of lower Michigan 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!”

Michael’s quote: Opera, to me, is the ultimate theater, and working with astonishingly talented artists has inspired me to love opera even more. As an audience member, I get to enjoy the show; as someone behind the scenes, I get to learn how it all comes together. I remember what a breakthrough it was for me to learn that it’s okay to laugh out loud at an opera! 

What doesn’t Karl do for SPO? Here’s a cross-section of his job description: Coordinating production schedules, orchestral personnel, finding production personnel, preparing/translating projected translations, writing program synopses, preparing costume size sheets for designers … he’s also an accomplished stage director (Il Trovatore, La Boheme, Faust, Don Giovanni and many more), a singer and a serious student, scholar and aficionado of opera. Karl joined our family for the 2013 production of Aridadne Auf Naxos, as the German language coach and in the role of Haushofmeister, in 2013. And he’s been a key component in making SPO run ever since.

Karl’s quote: Opera is storytelling. It is an art form with 400 years of variety.  If anyone says, “I don’t like opera,” my response is “Which one?” There’s too much variety for that to be an acceptable blanket statement. Maestro Sforzini’s vision in establishing the company’s unique profile – fitting grand opera and classic American musicals into the Palladium with the best available vocal artists, musicians, designers and production staff – continues to set and meet higher standards each season.

Zachary studied Bassoon at St. Petersburg College, instructed by Mark Sforzini. He has regularly worked with SPO in both a performance and technical capacity since 2016 and has directed several award-winning short films, including Weekend at Broski’s and Im-Proverbs 23. Most recently, he was a producer on Triggered (2020), which was submitted to the Sundance Film Festival, and as of reading this bio, may or may not have been accepted. In 2021, he was the Director of Photography for Cowbird, a horror/comedy, this past October in Troy, NC. In 2016, he wrote and directed a TV pilot titled Space Navy, a post-apocalyptic, political sci-fi dramedy in space that is currently being redeveloped into a graphic novel

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She’s the liaison between our gifted out-of-town artists and the gracious hosts who open their homes to them while they’re working on a SPO production. Everyone has to stay somewhere! A longtime fan and patron of our beloved organization, Susan – a bay area resident since 2001 – will be a key member of the team moving forward. “SPO thrives, in part, because of the repeated generosity of these valued hosts,” she says. “It is an integral, much appreciated gift they provide to the company.”

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Hours
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SPO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Mirella Cimato Smith

President

Dee Perconti

Vice President

Alexandra Bolton-Schultes

Treasurer

Jane Hudson

Secretary

Michele Kidwell-Gilbert

Gloria Matyszyk

Mary Alice McClendon

Paul Nucci

Tom Schneider

Mark Sforzini

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