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Published: Friday, 5/16/2003

Toledo Opera slates auditions for chorus

The Toledo Opera Chorus performs in the November production of Sweeney Todd. The Toledo Opera Chorus performs in the November production of Sweeney Todd.

Joe Scalzo, Jr. is a Toledo attorney. When not in court, he travels the world as an internationally certified wrestling referee. Both are high-pressure jobs. To relax, he sings.

Scalzo has been a member of the Toledo Opera Chorus for the past 20 years. “It's my escape from reality. On stage the problems of the world seem to go away,” he says.

Toledo Opera is looking for more singers like Scalzo. The company holds chorus auditions for the upcoming season from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday in its studio at 425 Jefferson Ave.

“All of our singers are volunteers. It's already a fine chorus, but we are always looking to raise the standard even higher,” says chorus master Kevin Bylsma.

Members tend to commit for the long term.

Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School assistant principal Janna Ravel has been a chorus member for five seasons.

“I love the magic of the whole thing. I have sung a lot around town, but this is real professional theater. It's great to be a part of it.”

It is also plenty exciting, she adds.

“There is no substitute for the feeling of watching the curtain go up, or making your first entrance. That's the greatest high there is,” she says.

The opera chorus longevity award goes to Jim Burns, a Maumee City Schools music teacher who joined in 1969 as a 17-year-old. “It's just plain fun,” says Burns.

“Some of us are trained in music; others are not. We are all here because we love it. Waiting to go on stage we are like a bunch of race horses waiting to run. It's hard to hold us back.”

Depending on availability, chorus members may participate in just one, or all four of next season's productions, which include: Mozart's Don Giovanni, Puccini's La Boheme, Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Ward's The Crucible. Rehearsals are on Sunday evenings and begin five to six weeks before a production.

Toledo Opera holds chorus auditions for the upcoming season from 3-5 p.m. Sunday in its 4th floor studio at 425 Jefferson. Singers should prepare one song in any language. Information: 419-255-7464.

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