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Amato Opera Theater

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319 Bowery, New York, NY 10003 40.725358 -73.99209
at 2nd St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-228-8200 Send to Phone

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Nearby Subway Stops

B, D, F, M at Broadway-Lafayette St.; 6 at Bleecker St.


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This venue is closed.

A non-profit labor of love, the Amato has been mounting fully staged, affordable, accessible productions in the East Village since 1948. Founders Tony Amato and his late wife Sally met as chorus members before embarking on this joint venture as co-artistic directors. He selected the operas, oversaw casting and rehearsals, and conducted performances. She sewed costumes, ran the light board, handled the publicity, and took an occasional role. They presented the company’s first show, Rossini’s Barber of Seville, in the auditorium of Our Lady of Pompeii Church. A nomadic existence followed until the troupe settled on the Bowery in 1964. Massive renovations converted the four-story, white brick building (once a restaurant supply store) into a theater with all the necessary trappings: a 20-foot stage, a tiny orchestra pit, a rehearsal space, and storage for sets and props. The resulting narrow, 107-seat space is distinguished by remarkably good acoustics and a thoroughly winning, if unforgiving, intimacy. (No fleck of flying sweat goes unnoticed!) The Amato has made a point of premiering lesser-known works—Giordano's La Cena delle Beffe, and Boito's Nerone—alongside crowd-pleasing repertory classics often tweaked with English interludes. Young talents are molded in the process, with some volunteers graduating to the Met and other major companies. As for Tony, he remains something of a local legend. Diminutive with a shock of silver hair and a bright smile, he can still be spotted in a tux at most shows, announcing the T-shirt raffle winner at intermission and thanking the audience at the conclusion.


The back of the theater is plastered with production photos and newspaper clippings tracing the company's history. Recordings and videos at bargain prices—plus biscotti, candy and light refreshments—are sold from a makeshift stall.


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