After 60 years of presenting affordable and ambitious opera to the denizens of downtown Manhattan, the landmark Amato Opera Company closes its doors for good May 31 with its final production: Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.
Under the care of Anthony Amato and his now-deceased wife Sally, the company has inhabited a converted tenement on the Bowery near Second Street since 1964, presenting "guerrilla" stagings of operatic classics.
The Amato averaged 60 performances of a half dozen pieces per season on its tiny stage- with a company of 150 singers alternating in lead roles nightly.
The small-scale productions generally consisted of not-always-consistent vocals and an orchestra made up of a keyboard and a few wind instruments, but the institution was beloved for its East Village intimacy and low ticket prices and notable as a starting point for a number of artists who would ultimately come to star on the international opera stage.
The Amatos founded the company in 1948, bouncing around to a few locations before buying the current Bowery space. Anthony directed and conducted most of the productions, with Sally taking on the design and finances. At production's end, Anthony would take roll up his sleeves and help the cast break down the set in preparation for the next show.
In January of this year, Amato dropped the big news that the troupe was shutting down by posting a note on the backstage refrigerator.
"Yes, it's sad," Amato told the New York Post. "However, when the final curtain falls, I know that Sally's and my dream will have been fulfilled. We've given it our all, and that is enough."
The final Amato production is this weekend's Marriage of Figaro, playing May 29 and 30 at 7:30 and May 31 at 2:30.
Fittingly, these performances are sold out, but fans and supporters may wish to show up anyway- if not in hopes of snagging a last-minute cancellation ticket, then to at the least bid farewell to a unique New York staple the likes of which the opera world will never see again.