If Paul McCartney hadn’t paused to help John Lennon tune his guitar at a church party in Liverpool, the Beatles might never have been born. And if Theodor Seuss Geisel hadn’t bumped into a friend in the publishing business, generations of children would have grown up without The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.
Some of the best partnerships are founded on happy coincidence – and that’s exactly what happened when classical music enthusiast and Mayflower resident Ruth McDaniel met Gabriel Preisser, a Grammy-winning baritone determined to breathe new life into Central Florida’s opera scene.
After the Recession took a toll on many of Florida’s oldest opera companies, local “diehard” fans were determined to keep the art form alive. Preisser was among those who helped found the brand-new Opera Orlando in 2016 – and as an outspoken advocate for the arts, Ruth was delighted at the transformation.
“It’s young, exciting, and vibrant,” she says. “People who never liked opera before absolutely love it!”
Determined to help the new director succeed, Ruth set about sharing her enthusiasm and making introductions.
“I will never forget the day I met Ruth McDaniel,” says Preisser. “The first thing she said was, ‘We need to get you to The Mayflower.’ She connected us with so many opera lovers, set up concerts for us, planned group trips to performances … she’s really a dynamo, an incredible advocate for the arts.”
Today, the partnership continues to flourish. Opera Orlando makes regular appearances at The Mayflower, where their studio artists – representing the 97th percentile of hundreds of applicants from across the country – perform highlights from the upcoming season.
If you haven’t had the chance to catch a performance this year, it’s not too late. The opera’s 2022 season continues through the end of this month, with final performances of Rigoletto on April 22 and 24 at Orlando’s brand-new Steinmetz hall – a state-of-the-art acoustic building made possible in part by donors at The Mayflower.
But locals can also enjoy fine music after the season is over through a variety of other opera programs. The annual Summer Concert Series features a diverse selection of songs, arias and duets by the opera’s gifted artists, while On the Town brings original productions to venues throughout the City of Orlando.
“Opera is all about the experience – the gorgeous voices, the booming music, the costumes,” says Ruth. “And when you have an experience that’s breathtaking, you want to share it with others. We’re excited about keeping the art form alive.”
That passion is also a testament to the lasting power of opera as an artistic medium, Preisser says: “Opera is part of all of us and has been a part of our history since the 1600s. It’s not elitist or stuffy; it’s for everybody. It’s storytelling on steroids – and the stories it tells about humanity are vibrant and genuine. That’s why they still ring true for us today.”
Since The Mayflower first opened its doors, we’ve nurtured a vibrant, life-enhancing, and mutually beneficial relationship with local arts organizations. To learn more about how residents like Ruth McDaniel play prominent roles in supporting the groups that bring music, theater, art and culture to Central Florida, check out the inaugural Arts Issue of our Navigator magazine.
You can also discover all the advantages of life at The Mayflower firsthand … by paying us a visit! Send us a message or give us a call at 407.672.1620 to schedule your personal appointment and tour. We look forward to hearing from you!