Florida’s Singing Sons: Middle School Opera Stars Steal The Spotlight
April 6, 2023
The Florida Singing Sons, a 48-year-old Fort Lauderdale institution, is providing the children’s chorus for Florida Grand Opera’s upcoming production of Tosca. Already a hit in Miami, the Sons next come home to Fort Lauderdale to reprise their roles as rambunctious Roman choirboys. For most of this lively troupe of 11-year-old boys (and two high school girls), Tosca is their first opera and their first stage experience.
Children’s choruses are an operatic tradition, and Tosca composer Giacomo Puccini had a fondness for them. In Turandot, he used the innocence of children singing a traditional Chinese melody to contrast with the horror of the Prince of Persia’s execution. Act II of La Bohème opens with a raucous Christmas Eve street scene, including a horde of excited children mobbing the toy seller Parpignol. In Tosca, a riot of rowdy choirboys defy the hapless Sacristan and face discipline from the frightening Baron Scarpia before joining in the glorious Te Deum that crowns Act I.
The Singing Sons’ performance has already received rave reviews in Miami, with Lawrence Budmen of the South Florida Classical Review writing, “The Florida Singing Sons boy choir (under Daniel Bates and Malcolm Rogers) provided fresh voices and high spirits for the Act I finale, joining the FGO chorus (under Jared Peroune) in a vigorous and unified, well- coordinated effort that rang the house.”
Singing Sons Artistic Director Daniel Bates, a former FGO Studio Artist who recently appeared as Friar 1 in Buoso’s Ghost, said, “There’s a lot of energy, as you might imagine. They’re so excited to be there. They couldn’t get enough of the orchestra and the high notes. When Arturo (Chacón-Cruz, playing Cavaradossi) had his ‘Vittoria’ moment, they did all the kid things, screaming and wailing. They have this saying: ‘He ate.’ ‘He ate’ means ‘he did very well.’ ‘He ate and left no crumbs’ means that it was phenomenal. So apparently, there were no crumbs left after Arturo sang!”
The Sons work with students throughout Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties. Students as young as 7 are accepted, and many stay with the organization all the way through high school. The organization’s mission is to provide an enriching musical experience for talented children (girls are also welcome), imbuing them with self-discipline, strength of character, and richness of personality, while offering the community a source of pride in the achievement of its youth. The kids study vocal technique, musicianship, and a wide variety of choral literature ranging from rock anthems to sacred music, from Broadway to opera. They tour both domestically and worldwide, and are in demand with South Florida performing arts organizations. They regularly sing with the New World Symphony, Miami Bach Society, Master Chorale of South Florida, New World Symphony, Nova Singers, and the Symphony of the Americas.
“I like to say that we use music as a way to create young men. Now we have some girls, so it’s a way to create young adults,” says Bates. “We take them as children and teach them life lessons along the way, while giving them best friends. We give very high-level experiences like Tosca, but also, while music is our medium, we’re really a safe place for these kids to come, be themselves, meet people with similar interests, and we do a lot more than just music.”
“We are thrilled to have Florida’s Singing Sons with us for Tosca,” says FGO General Director and CEO Susan T. Danis." Not only does their presence add a moment of charming levity to a highly dramatic story, but their musical contribution is invaluable. We are lucky to have an organization like the Singing Sons in our community. Their contribution to the arts scene in South Florida and to our production of Tosca is invaluable.”
Along with the Singing Sons, Florida Grand Opera’s Tosca stars Metropolitan Opera soprano Toni Marie Palmertree in the title role, international star tenor and South Florida resident Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Cavaradossi, and FGO favorite baritone Todd Thomas in his signature role as Baron Scarpia.
Tosca plays on April 13 and 15, 2023 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available at: www.fgo.org Or by calling: (800) 741-1010.
About Florida Grand Opera
FGO was founded in 1941 as Greater Miami Opera and merged with The Opera Guild of Fort Lauderdale, Inc. in 1994. As Florida's premier opera company, it presents standard repertoire, contemporary works, new commissions, and original productions — all featuring projected translations in English and Spanish. The mainstage operas of the season include Domenico Cimarosa’s El matrimonio secreto, sung in Spanish translation (November 12th, 2022 - November 15th, 2022), Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Michael Ching’s Buoso’s Ghost (January 28th, 2023 – February 11th, 2023), Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca (March 18th, 2023 - April 15th, 2023), and Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (April 29th, 2023 – May 20th, 2023).