Fort Lee Resident Performs in Verismo Opera’s ‘Turandot’ at bergenPAC on April 22

Giovanni Simone
Giovanni Simone performs the Emperor in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera’s production of Turandot on April 22 at the Bergen Performing Arts Center

(Bergen County, New Jersey; April 6, 2018) – The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera announces tenor Giovanni Simone of Fort Lee, New Jersey will perform the Emperor in the company’s grand production of Giacomo Puccini’s last opera, Turandot.  The opera will be performed on April 22, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at the Bergen Performing Arts Center, located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be part of a great production, here in Bergen County, and sing the role of Emperor Altoum, sung in the past by the greatest comprimarios.  Being a part of this production of Turandot brings back many memories being part of this opera at the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy in a chorus of over 100 and assimilating Puccini’s great music on that enormous stage,” said Simone.

            Born in the southern Italian port of Mola di Bari, he studied architecture at the Liceo Artistico and voice at the Conservatorio Nicolò Piccinni in Bari, Italy, under the direction of world-famous composer Nino Rota.  He joined the opera chorus and sang his first solo roles at Italy’s beloved Teatro Petruzelli at age 17.

Simone has performed in a range of operas, including AidaRigoletto, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Gioconda, and others.  He performed in Rigoletto 54 times with the Baltimore Opera Company in Maryland and the Regina Opera Company in Brooklyn, New York, where he was the stage manager for 18 years.  Simone is very familiar with Verismo Opera productions, having performed in several, including Rigoletto as Matteo Borsa, Lucia di Lammermoor as Normanno, La Bohème as Street Vendor and in the company’s debut of Amilcare Ponchielli’s La Gioconda as Isepo.  The New Jersey State Opera and Philadelphia Grand Opera are among the other opera companies he has worked with.

He appeared with several professional productions in the Tri-State area performing supporting roles with a number of leading opera companies.  His portrait of Goro in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Tinca in Puccini’s Il Tabarro, Gastone in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, Arturo and Normanno in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor have been well received by the press and by the public.  He worked with Metropolitan Opera conductors Ignace Strasfogel, Richard Woitach and Henry Lewis and performed in productions with world famous baritones Tito Gobbi and Mario Sereni.

Dramatic Fairy Tale

Verismo Opera presents the 18th century dramatic fairy tale by Venetian playwright Carlo Gozzi in three acts, with the libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.  In Puccini’s extravagant portrayal of both ancient China and the opera’s namesake Princess, Turandot, the musical genius masterly shows how true love can conquer sacrifice, hate, and vengeance and ultimately, melt an ice cold heart.             

Under Principal Conductor/Music Director Lucy Arner, a live orchestra accompanies the performancewith Chorus Director/Associate Conductor Michael Wittenburg leading the Verismo Opera Chorus.  Emily Spaeth joins the company in this production and directs the Verismo Opera Children’s Chorus.  General Manager/Stage Director Evelyn La Quaif directs the fully staged opera.  The cast appears in period costumes and performs in Italian.  English supertitles are projected on a screen for the audience to follow.


Tickets are on sale at bergenPAC’s box office, located at 30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, New Jersey, or call (201) 227-1030 or toll-free at 1-888-PACSHOW.  They may also be purchased online at

This season, the company is providing several special ticket rates for senior citizens, children, and groups.  Senior citizens receive a 10% discount.  The company is offering a reduced rate of $10 on all tickets for children, ages 12 and under.  These special senior citizen and children’s discount ticket rates are available through April 22 at the box office only and must be requested before the purchase.  Special ticket rates may not be combined with others. 

Group discounts are available on $55 and $45 tickets only with a minimum purchase of 10 tickets.  For special group rates only, contact Ms. Hawks at  This discount is not available online.

The theatre is handicapped accessible.  Designated handicapped parking spaces are available.  For information about bergenPAC’s Accessibility Services, contact the theatre’s Americans With Disabilities Coordinator at (201) 816-8160, extension 31.

The season is made possible, in part, with funds provided by the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State, through grant funds administered by the Bergen County Department of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.

Coming Up

The company presents Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Norma on Sunday, October 28, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at the bergenPAC.  Tickets will be on sale at the box office starting April 22, 2018.

“Norma is a masterpiece filled with verismo styled passion, both in lyric and music. Masterfully telling the story of a Druid Priestess, who has not only broken her virginal vows but is secreting two children fathered the Roman soldier Pullione, Norma is riddled with love, intrigue, jealousy, and death on a heroic level.  This opera will put a chill up your back,” said General Manager/Stage Director Evelyn La Quaif.

About New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera

For 29 years, the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Fort Lee, New Jersey, has been an integral part of the region’s classical music culture.  Led by Metropolitan Opera luminary Lucine Amara, Verismo Opera is the Bergen Performing Arts Center’s house opera company.  Verismo Opera provides performing opportunities for artists through semi-annual productions and concerts, directs an international vocal competition drawing artists worldwide, and organizes opera workshops and master classes.

For information, visit Verismo Opera’s web site,; follow the company on Facebook,, or Twitter @NJVerismoOpera; or call (201) 886-0561.

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