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Sayville Young People's Opera Workshop Wows Audience

Remarkable company performs excerpts from three operettas.

The Sayville Young People's Opera Workshop (SYPOW) has been culling Long Island's young talent since its inception in 1996. Last week, the company put on three short operas at the Sayville Middle School David M. Jones Auditorium.

The performers range in age from 11 to 24 and have less than six weeks to learn their material and 74 hours of rehearsal. The SYPOW exemplifies what hard work, dedication and passion can produce and it's evident that this troupe really has their act together.

"It's a workshop, and we do the best we can and we hope you enjoy it," said managing director Steven Hailey.

The show started with a rendition of Aaron Copland's opera The Second Hurricane, a story of high school students stranded in Louisiana after the hurricane of '37. Blending together in haunting harmony, their voices lure the audience into their harrowing tale. Each soloist proved that not only do these kids have a great set of lungs, but they've got some acting chops as well.

Injecting some levity into the lineup, Act II presents the satirical oratorio, Oedipus Tex by P.D.Q. Bach. Set in Thebes Gulch, Texas, the western version of famed Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex will have you happily slapping your knee at their calamities. James Brewer, 15, plays lead Oedipus Tex as if he hailed from the lone star state. With a natural swagger he charismatically hooks his thumbs in his belt and delivers a big performance. Tex's leading lady is Billie Jo Casta, played by Naomi Goldman, 20. She vocally ensnares the audience with her southern charm. Elvira Razzano, 17, is witty as Madame Peep and mystifies as a seer and songstress.

The final number performed was an excerpt from well-known opera, Carmen, by George Bizet. The players take you back in time to a tragic love story in 1830s Spain. Joseph Hailey, 19, lends his booming voice to bring Don Jose to life. Hailey takes the audience through Don Jose's ups and downs as easily as he carries a tune. The role of the seductive Carmen is played by four different actresses: Brianna Mikolich, 16; Samantha Dwyer, 14; Lauren Edwards, 21 and Elvira Razzano. Each girl gave the part a piece of themselves and executed the songs wonderfully. From fanning themselves flirtatiously, to swaying their hips, the young cast interacted with the dashing young men who vied for their attention with vigor.

"It's amazing what they do in six weeks," said Debbie Dwyer, whose daughter, Samantha Dwyer plays one of the Carmens. "They have incredible devotion."

"They have unbelievable talent," conductor Garrett Fujarski proudly stated. "The talent pool never runs dry. They leave it all up on the stage. But the smiles on their faces are what make it great."

The workshop is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an educational and performing experience for the community's youth.

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