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Opera star returns to Queens for recital

Former organist and choir director Gordon Paulsen needed a baritone soloist for his choir at the Community Church of Douglaston. He knew where to find undiscovered talent, and during a search at Juilliard School in Manhattan, the director met his new soloist, a young student, Stacey Robinson.

He will be featured at a Community Church of Douglaston special benefit recital, "A Night of Musical Delight," Friday, March 10, at 8 p.m.

Robinson was then studying with Juilliard's great African-American bass baritone, Simon Estes and later graduated from the school. During the next few years, the Douglaston choir and its director had a "chancel" seat's view of Robinson's progress. "He was with us for about four years," says Paulsen, "but he had breaks from the choir whenever he had professional roles."

Robinson's roles became professional indeed. He went on to perform the role of Crown in "Porgy and Bess" to critical acclaim with the Houston Grand Opera and other opera companies in the United States. Robinson made his Broadway debut in "The Phantom of the Opera" and has performed leading roles in such shows as "Big River," "Children of Eden," "Jesus Christ Superstar," and "La Cage Aux Folles."

According to organizers of the upcoming recital, Robinson has prepared an exciting and eclectic program, "ranging from operatic arias to art songs, and beloved spirituals." Featured music is expected to be from Handel, Schubert, Vaughn Williams, Duparc and various African American composers. There will also be a guest appearance by the church's soprano soloist, Kimberly Iannuzzi-Pidherny, who will join him in a duet from Mozart's opera, "The Magic Flute."

"A Night of Musical Delight" is open to the public. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for senior citizens and children under 12. Tickets will be available at the door, and there will be a reception for the artists after the concert. Proceeds will benefit the church's ongoing community and youth outreach programs. The church is located at 39-50 Douglaston Parkway, Douglaston.

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