Rite of passage

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Even if given the chance, Nicholas Coppolo wouldn’t trade places with the aggressive Emilio, Prince of Cumai, the character he is portraying in New York City Opera’s current production of Handel’s “Partenope.”

“I had to have a meeting with my acting coach to learn how to do his frat-boy posturing,” said Coppolo, a tenor who lives in Astoria. “Playing Emilio is a nice reminder that inflated bravado doesn’t lead down a good path. It is never fruitful.”

As an artist and performer, Coppolo said he would rather live with his “insecurities and fears in an honest and direct way than live not knowing who I am. It always has better results. It is just scary for a lot of people to live that way,” he said.

Still, Coppolo does admit “a certain envy for Emilio’s brashness in Act 1, even its failure and its overconfid­ence,” he said. “But, I certainly have respect for it.” Emilio is one of several princes courting the elegant and powerful Queen Partenope. “If it weren’t for the Emilios of the world, most operas would be over in 10 minutes,” he said.

Coppolo believes opera is the ideal art form for studying human nature in its most base and primal — and occasionally, its most triumphant and noble — incarnations.

“I have done a lot of shows and styles, and the vast majority of lyric tenors are 18 to 35 years old. These guys are becoming men. I find myself in a lot of these individuals,” said Coppolo. “You learn a whole lot about yourself in every production that you do. If you are open to it, it makes you a lot more aware of yourself. So many of them are so immature.”

Coppolo was born in Plano, Texas, and has played several interesting tenors, ´╗┐including Lurcanio in Stephen Wadsworth’s production of Handel’s “Ariodante” at the Julliard Opera Center, where he is a member in his final year; Ecclitico in Diane Paulus’s production of Haydn’s “Il Mondo della Luna” with the Gotham Chamber Opera at the Hayden Planetarium; Icarus in the world premiere of Daron Aric Hagen’s “Amelia”; and Alfredo in 13 productions of Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

Other performances have included Edgardo in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” with Opera Omaha; Nemorino in Donizetti’s “Elisir d’amore”; Ismaele in Verdi’s “Nabucco” at Utah Festival Opera; Don Ottavio in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”; Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”; the title role in Britten’s “Albert Herring”; Tamino in Mozart’s “Zauberflöte”; Nerone in Monteverdi’s “Incoronazi­one di Poppea”; and Grimoaldo in Handel’s “Rodelinda.”

Successful but indifferent in school as a boy, Coppolo found inspiration on the stage with his obvious talent and breadth as a singer. He moved to New York in 2006 to study at the prestigious Julliard School. “For some reason, I wanted to be as hard on myself as I could,” he said. “ I wanted to hone my singing instrument into one that behaves.”

On stage, Coppolo said he is not as interested in giving a performance as in challenging and learning something about himself. “I feel that if I am open to that, I will communicate a powerful performance to the audience,” he said. “It is like walking from the dark part of the forest to the light.”

New York City Opera’s production of “Partenope” is scheduled to play at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center (63rd St. & Columbus Ave) on April 9 at 8 p.m., April 11 at 1:30 p.m., April 13 at 7:30 p.m., April 15 at 8 p.m., and April 17 at 1:30 p.m. Single tickets range in price from $12 to $145 and can be purchased in person at the box office, online at, or by calling CenterCharge at 212-721-6500.

Worth the trip

Fat Chance: Jazz at Lincoln Center to celebrate Waller

Many historians of jazz music or of Queens agree that Thomas “Fats” Waller was the first African American to live in the Addisleigh Park section of St. Albans.

His house at Sayres Avenue and 174th Street is said to have not only had a Steinway grand piano but also a built-in Hammond organ. Nothing less would have suited a man who was so powerfully dedicated to both personal flamboyance and musical seriousness.

Jazz at Lincoln Center will celebrate both the man and his music with a two-day celebration this month on April 16-17 at the Rose Theater.

Hosted by performer Ben Vereen, who will also perform, the events each evening will kick off at 7 p.m. with a pre-concert discussion led by Music Director Andy Farber and JALC’s Ken Drucker. The twosome will discuss Waller’s life story and musical songbook and set the stage for the evening’s performance. Meanwhile, in true Fats fashion, a pre-concert festival will also be held featuring live music and refreshments from such partners as the Harlem Brewery, the restaurant Spoonbread, the Harlem Arts Alliance, the Jazz Museum in Harlem, the Jazz Record Center and Great Performances.

At 8 p.m. each night the concert will commence and Farber will conduct a cast of singers, pianists and other musicians at they present some Waller favorites such as “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Alligator Crawl” and “Honeysuckle Rose.”

The rhythm section for the evening will include pianist Ehud Asherie, bassist Ben Wolfe, guitarist Doug Wamble and drummer Alvester Garnett. Along with Andy Farber on saxophone, performers include clarinetist and saxophonist Dan Block, vocalists Carla Cook and Allan Harris, and trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso.

Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, is in the Time Warner building on Broadway at 60th Street in Manhattan. Frederick P. Rose Hall can be accessed using the JAZZ elevators located on the ground floor. Tickets for JALC events can be purchased at the box office at the center or online at

— Raphael Sugarman

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