Leadership

Maria Todaro with a bust of FGO founder Arturo Di Filippi

Maria Todaro

assumed the role of General Director of the Florida Grand Opera in Fall 2023 with thirty years of international experience as an arts administrator and entrepreneur, stage director, conductor, librettist, and operatic mezzo-soprano under her belt.  She is a citizen of the US, France, and Italy, and has spent a significant amount of time in Brazil, and speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.

She began her professional life in opera as a mezzo-soprano and entrepreneur, founding the production company Arteodor in France and later embarking on a career as a stage director. She has directed 23 productions for companies such as Minnesota Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Hawaii Opera Theater. Over a span of ten years, Todaro has also staged 16 original productions. She collaborated as librettist with composer Mitch Bach to write an opera based on The Three Musketeers and is collaborating on an opera about Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, with composer Damien Geter and playwright Harrison Davis Rivers.

In 2009, Todaro co-founded the Hudson Valley International Festival of The Voice (FOV, formerly the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice), a four-day summer event in upstate New York. As General Director, she created a backstage apprenticeship program, oversaw the purchase of the organization’s buildings, and during the COVID-19 lockdown, pioneered the United States’ first live drive-in opera performance. She also introduced virtual reality technology to FOV to create a re-imagined and well-received Tosca that was available locally as a live, drive-in performance and worldwide as a digital one. Opera UK noted, “Todaro’s concept worked because she stayed true to the drama at its core.”  Todaro continues as General Director of FOV in addition to her new role at Florida Grand Opera.  Under her leadership, FOV is preparing to launch an anti-human trafficking awareness program through the arts.

Todaro’s specialties as an arts administrator include audience development and community outreach. Under her leadership, the Hudson Valley International Festival of the Voice regularly attracts 7,000–10,000 visitors to a three-day festival in a remote location, reinvigorating tourism and the local economy. One of her first acts as General Director was to recruit locals of all ages and backgrounds to form a chorus, creating a strong and lasting bond between the community and the Festival which continues to this day. The volunteer chorus has even produced its own professional soloists, young people who chose to pursue music professionally after enjoying the community experience.

With passions and projects extending far beyond the proscenium, Todaro is an ardent advocate for opera as a potent source of healing within society. She is dedicated to harnessing its power to address critical societal issues, including women’s empowerment, the fight against human trafficking, and accessible education for all.

Her awards and recognition include the 2017 HealthAlliance Foundation Tulip Award as the Best Community Organization for enhancing wellness and healing in the Hudson Valley community, the 2016 Community Award from Rotary International in Palermo, Sicily, the 2014 YWCA Cultural Woman of the Year Award, and the 2012 Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce Best Cultural Event of the Year for the FOV.

Todaro‘s background in opera commenced at birth and has continued throughout her life. She is the daughter of Italian opera singer Jose Todaro and Brazilian mezzo-soprano Maria-Helena de Oliveira. Her grandmother, Helena de Oliveira, headed the International Vocal and Piano Competition of Rio de Janeiro. She is married to international baritone Louis Otey, who she met when they shared a singing engagement.

Board of Directors

Officers

  • Tina Vidal-Duart, Chair
  • Robert B. Glick, CPA, Treasurer
  • Larry Kamin, Secretary

Directors

  • Giacomo Bossa
  • Nancy Jean Davis
  • Robert Dinerstein
  • Robert C. Gang
  • Thomas Heisler
  • Andrey Ilyasov
  • Radmila Lolly
  • Per-Olof Lööf
  • Arlene H. Mendelson
  • Victor H. Mendelson
  • Sandra Savini
  • Patrice Tedescko, Esq.
  • Chang Oh Turkmani
  • Dr. Claes Wahlestedt

Staff

ADMINISTRATION — (305) 403-3317

  • Maria Todaro, General Director and CEO
  • Lourdes Solorzano, Executive Assistant to the General Director, Finance Associate – lsolorzano@fgo.org

 

DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING — (305) 403-3324

  • Tanya Byng, Chief Advancement Officer – lsolorzano@fgo.org
  • Eliane Nobile, Major Gifts Officer/Corporate Sponsorships – enobile@fgo.org
  • Cees Postema, Development Associatecpostema@fgo.org

 

PRODUCTION — (305) 403-3284 

  • Darío AlmirónHead of Costume Shop – dalmiron@fgo.org
  • Michael MilesProperties Coordinator

 

ARTISTIC ADMINSTRATION — (305) 403-3293 – artistic@fgo.org

  • Matt Cooksey, Director of Artistic Operations – mcooksey@fgo.org
  • Neil Nelson, Samuel M. Townsend Studio Artist Program Manager – nnelson@fgo.org
  • Kali Fong, Artistic Associate – kfong@fgo.org
  • Jared PerouneFGO Studio Staff Coach/Pianist & Chorus Master 
  • Paul SchwartzRehearsal Pianist

EDUCATION — (786) 438-2717

  • Lauren Frick, Education and Social Entrepreneurship Director – lfrick@fgo.org

 

FINANCE — (305) 403-3289

  • Susana Diaz, Chief Finance Officer

 

OPERATIONS/IT — (305) 403-1953

  • Marco FranceschiOperations and IT Manager
  • Lucie SpielerIT Development and Training Manager

 

AUDIENCE SERVICES — (305) 403-3310

  • Gary HermanDirector of Audience Services – gherman@fgo.org
  • Rachel WreshBox Office Associate
  • Roxana TrianaBox Office Associate