Maestro Mark Sforzini

Executive & Artistic Director

Roger Curlin

Director of Development

Michael Roberts

Artistic Administrator

Karl W. Hesser

Production Specialist

Zachary Twitty

Production Assistant

Susan Aspray

Housing Coordinator

Joshua N. Natonio

Marketing & Outreach Specialist

Carol Laughlin

Director of Operations boxoffice@stpeteopera.org

Cecelia Messina

Staff Bios

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


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.”

L'Italiana in Algeri starts in . .. ...



Paul Nucci


Tom Schneider

Vice President

Alexandra Bolton-Schultes


Jane Hudson


Rob Abernathy

Dr. Suzanne Ben-Kane

Mirella Cimato Smith

Michele Kidwell Gilbert

Gloria Matyszyk

Mark Sforzini


Ticket sales and exchanges for Fidelio will not be available until NOON today, Thursday, March 24.

At noon, all phone sales and exchanges will be available through the Palladium box office at 727-822-3590.

Online sales will be available at NOON on our website. For all other inquiries, contact the St. Pete Opera box office at 727-823-2040, ext. 1.


Ticket sales and exchanges for The Italian Girl in Algiers will not be available until noon today, Thursday, June 1.

At noon, all phone sales and exchanges will be available through The Palladium box office at 727-822-3590.

Online sales will resume after noon on our website. For all other inquiries, contact the St. Pete Opera box office at 727-823-2040, ext. 1.