September 26, 2010
An Introduction to the People Behind the Story
Dear friends and backers,
Thank you again for your generosity and support to me and this project. We are about to live a life and journey together for a while and I would like to start it by introducing everyone involved. Everyone you are about to meet is part of my story and most of them have been part of it for a long time. I hope you enjoy reading about everyone as much I enjoyed writing about them. As I meet new people throughout this journey who support the project in anyway, I will add them to the list. You all have at least two things in common - me and the project.
I will post a new blog entry every Sunday at 12 Midnight (CEST).
Adam I Orenstein (Backer/Research) I met Adam through the Dunedin Fine Art center in Florida. He is a huge support and fan and has always gone above and beyond for the people he cares about. Adam also helped find some articles and information about Bidu which were very helpful.
Al Calabrese (Backer) I've known Al for about six years. He always has an uplifting word for me when I'm down and never hesitates to get me out of a computer related bind.
Alessio Moneta (Backer) I met Alessio in Jena, Germany when I first moved to Europe. He has great taste in music and was an automatic supporter of my multimedia idea. He shares my love for adventure and on his holidays you may find him doing some extremely dangerous mountain climbing.
Alfredo Olarte (Backer/Research) Alfredo was one of my very first leading men in a Sunstate Opera production when I was about 20 years old. He is a very talented singer, gifted teacher and good friend. He found a wonderful old record with information about Bidu and had it shipped to me.
Alia Petrey (Backer) I met Alia performing with the New Century Opera. She is a sweet woman with a sweet voice.
Amy Fogleman (Backer) I met Amy when she studied with my voice teacher, Mario Laurenti, many years ago. She is funny, lighthearted and charming with a voice like a bell. I can always count on her for an encouraging word and a laugh.
Arianna Martinelli (Backer) Dr. Martinelli is a very accomplished and charming woman who I met through a group of Italians when I first moved to Jena, Germany.
Arthur Sanchez (Backer) Arthur is the Education and Marketing Assistant at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center. He is also a published author and a man of the theater so he knows how to give me a boost when needed.
Aydelette Kelsey (Backer) Aydelette is a Dunedin Fine Arts Center faculty member and an incredible photographer and graphic artist. Not only is her artwork capturing but she is as well.
Brent Douglas (pianist/organist/Music Consultant) I have been working and performing with Brent Douglas since I was about 16 years old. He is one of my dearest friends and one of the best pianists I have ever worked with. When Brent plays piano, something spiritual happens to people. He is also one of the inspirations behind this project. His creativity with his own multi-media performances inspired me to think out of the box and create this play.
Bryce Westervelt (Backer/Music Consultant/Kickstarter invite) Bryce is a talented musician, tenor and recording artist. We met singing Christmas carols 3 Christmas's ago and have been friends ever since. He is also working on a project which was funded through Kickstarter and was the one who gave me the opportunity to use Kickstarter by sending me an invite. Each project creator is given a limited number of invites to give. Bryce was the other inspiration behind this project with his multi-media performances he collaborated on with Brent Douglas and others. He is a great cheerleader and always there when I need him.
Catherine & Ava Bergmann (Backers) Catherine Bergmann and her daughter, Ava, are very special to me. I met Catherine at the Dunedin Fine Art Center where she works as the Head Curator and Education Director. Catherine is an enigmatic artist and a sweet and loving spirit. She always opens her heart to everyone and never turns anyone away when they need her.
Charles Oestreich (Backer) Charlie is a Dunedin Fine Art Center Faculty member and a tremendous supporter of mine. He always went the extra mile to record moments of my performances, format them and ship them over to me in Germany.
Chris Giocondo (Backer) Junior, as we call him, has been a good friend of mine since I was about 22. He has always been a good and caring person in my life and someone all of his friends know they can count on.
Chris Meier (Backer) I joined Rotary International when I was in my early twenties and Chris was a fellow member of the Palm Harbor chapter. He is a Rotarian, that says it all.
Christine Yianopoulos (Backer) Christine is a very talented pianist and charismatic personality.
Clara A. Yarian (Backer) Clara is a very talented potter with a love for the arts. She is the clay lab manager at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and never ceases to amaze me with her creativity and willingness to always listen to another one of my crazy stories. She is a wonderful support to me.
Dave Wladaver (Backer) I met Dave through the New Century Opera. He has a passion for music and martial arts.
David Dubinsky (Translation) I met David when I was about 6 years old. He was my neighbor in Virginia where I was born. He is one of the smartest people I know and one of the most humble. He helped us find someone who could translate a Russian passage about Bidu Sayao for our research.
Pete Bouwma and Denise Akob (Backers) Denise and Pete are a lovely married couple who I met through a mutual friend, Kelsey Davis, when I first came to Jena, Germany. I had the pleasure of being around when they found out they were going to have their first baby. They took me under their wing, fed me countless dinners and helped with everything from train schedules to where to go if I needed a doctor. They will be fantastic parents.
Duane Peacock (Backer) Duane is a dear friend and supporter. He has always believed in me and appreciated the things I stood for. I met him through his son Tony in my mid twenties.
Elizabeth Daniels (Backer) Beth Daniels is an incredible woman who I met through the Sunstate Opera when I was about 15 years old. She is strong and powerful with a great voice and even better energy. Beth and her partner Dianne have always encouraged me and supported me all these years.
Enkyrosaum Maida Santa Cruz (Backer) Enky is a sweet, gentle spirit who I met when she took classes at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. She loves photography, and she's good at it!
Esther Talledo Snook (Backer/Music) I had the pleasure of working with Esther in the New Century Opera's production of "Orpheus and Eurydice." She has a velvet mezzo soprano voice and a beautiful soul. She is always willing to help and has offered assistance with music for the Bidu Sayao project.
Fawzi M Bayyat (Backer) Fawzi is a customer I met when I worked at Sweet Tomatoes, which was my very first job. We shared a love for music and he always saw something in me that I didn't. When I came to Germany, we reconnected though Facebook after losing touch for many years. I am honored that he believes in me as much as he does.
George Ann Bissett (Backer) George Ann is the Executive Director of the Dunedin Fine Arts Center. She is a dynamic woman with a love for the arts. It's obvious she has a deep passion for the performing arts and has done her share of performing on stage. George Ann always has fantastic ideas and is very knowledgeable about many things in the dramatic arts, which is why she will be someone whose brain might be picked throughout this project.
Gianluca Mingoia (Backer) Affectionately referred to as "The Italian"; Gianluca is a warm, generous person with an expert knowledge of fine wines, delectable cooking and life. I met Dr. Mingoia through his coworker, Rachel Yotter, when I first moved to Germany.
Glenn Royes (Backer) I was 21 when I first met, HSCS (Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron) Glenn Royes in Florida. Glenn has a heart of gold and never ceases to amaze me with his compassionate and caring nature, which makes him an amazing medical professional. I'm proud to know him and proud to know there are people like him serving our country in the US Military.
haoule5 (Anonymous Backer) You know who you are and so do I. I guess it's not so anonymous anymore. Thanks for being there for me. We are we.
Harald Naber (Backer) Harald is a beautifully spiritual man and the artist/creator of the whimsical Naber Kid dolls. I met Harald for the first time when I was 9. My father took me to The Naber Kids doll factory in Homosassa Springs, Florida where I picked out 3 dolls to purchase as an investment. I had no idea that those dolls would be the reason I would reconnect with Mr. Naber over twenty years later when I moved to Germany.
Hilary Gallagher (Backer) Hilary is an Irish woman I met when I went to a salsa night in Jena, Germany. She was the very first backer for my project and I'm happy she is on board.
Jane Russell Geddings (Backer) I was introduced to Jane many years ago in a production of Hansel and Gretel when she choreographed the ballet for the opera. She has touched many lives both as a teacher and a performer and shows nothing but love and encouragement to all who cross her path.
Jolanda Nel (Backer) Jolanda is a South African soprano who I met through the Sunstate Opera during my early years. She just recently became an American citizen and has a loving husband and two beautiful boys. Jolanda has a beautiful, unique voice and is always open for a stimulating and enjoyable chat about my adventures.
JP Banas (Film Consultant) I met JP through a network of mutual friends and discovered his incomparable talent for film production. He has graciously offered to help with any filming or editing questions.
Julie Dechen (Backer) Julie is a long time friend from elementary school who I've always admired for her brilliant mind. I remember her reading law novels as a teen and now she's a lawyer. She's a great person and we always seem to be able to pick up right where we left off no matter how much time has passed.
Karen Lewis (Backer) I met Karen through Chris Giocondo roughly six years ago when she moved from her native Canada to work in Tampa, Florida. She's fun and pleasant and someone I always look forward to catching up with.
Kaya Jill (Backer) Kaya is a treasure. She was born in Poland and came to Florida while studying at Schiller University. Being a European, she has been extremely helpful with making contacts in different parts of the world to help me with the project. She is currently the Special Events Coordinator at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and the master-mind behind the popular Wearable Art Fashion Show in Dunedin, Florida. Kaya is also a friend I can pour my soul out to without judgment. She's my blond Charlie's Angel.
Kelli Rule (Backer/Consultant/Blog Editor) Kelli and I started working at the Dunedin Fine Art Center around the same time about 5 or 6 years ago. She is a brilliant woman with a talent for painting and cooking and a knack for words and thoughts. I admire her strength, courage, creativity and mind. She has offered her expertise to help with the blog and consulting. She is my redheaded Charlie's Angel.
Kelly Blaggie (Backer) I've known Kelly Blaggie since the 2nd grade when we went to Lakeside Christian School together. She is well liked by everyone who knows her and exudes an intelligent, kind and generous nature.
Kelsey Davis (Way Paver) I met Kelsey when she was Patrick Davidson's roommate a few years ago. She was the teacher I took over for when I came to Jena, Germany and she left many things behind to help me feel comfortable and adjusted including: friends, clothes, a job, drawers and stories. She is a kind and brilliant woman and someone who understands my path better than most.
Ken & Kris Hannon (Backers) Never has there been a more loving couple than these two. Ken is the Associate Executive Director at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and an amazing photographer. His is wife, Kris, is a talented graphic artist, supportive wife and wonderful mom. They are great examples of what it means to be a team.
Lauren Shure (Backer) Lauren has a huge heart and cares for every living thing on this earth. We met at Tarpon Springs High School in 9th grade and she is and will be one of my dearest friends for life.
Liza Naumann (Backer) I first met Liza through her daughter Ericka when I was in high school. She is creative mind and brilliant artist with a sweet spirit. We reconnected years later when I worked at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.
Lou Tutko (Backer) Lou has popped in and out of my life for about 14 years. We first met when I worked at sweet tomatoes and then he ended up in the same office complex as me when I ran Youth Opera Appreciation. He has always been a giving and supportive person in my life and never hesitates to go the extra mile for me in every endeavor I take on.
Luis E. Ramos (Research/Bidu Biography) Luis has been an essential person in the collection and translation of information about Bidu Sayao. Being a Brazilian himself, Luis has shown great dedication to his country as he makes an effort to preserve and share a piece of history for his native land. With his work and our collaboration, we hope the results will turn out a biography of Bidu Sayao in English.
Marcus Baca (Backer) I met Marcus through our mutual friend, Nicholas Nezis. Marcus is an American now living in Stuttgart and is a person who admires passion and drive. He does a lot of humanitarian work and just finished his first Iron Man which says a lot about him.
Marianne Davidson (Supporter) Marianne is a key element in my ability to move to Germany and pursue my dreams. I met her through her son, Patrick, when I was 13 and she has given me so much. She was my first employer at the Davidson's English School in Germany, my roommate, my landlady and she will always be a good friend.
Marie Casano (Backer) I met Marie when she became an art student at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. She has a strong faith in God and gentleness about her. I'm always grateful for her encouragement.
Mario Laurenti (Supporter/Voice Teacher) I walked into Mario's life when I was 15 for my first voice lesson and never left. His encouragement and tough love with each lesson taught me as much about life as it did about singing. He is my mentor, teacher, second father and dear friend. Mario planted the seed that turned into the Bidu Sayao Project when he told me one day at a lesson, "You remind me of Bidu Sayao."
Mark Puetz (Backer) The first time I met Mark was when I was at a trade show for Sweet Tomatoes. I had just started Youth Opera Appreciation at that time and he had just started a marketing company. He loves it when I sing jazz and he is someone I can count on to come up with a creative solution when I think I'm at a dead end.
Matt Everett (Backer) Matt was one of the technicians who worked at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida when I worked as the Box Office Manager. He and the other technicians were so much fun to work with and I'm happy to reconnect with him and some of the others through this project. Matt is now in New York where I will be going to research that part of Bidu's life.
Matt Jurgens (Backer) Matt was a special needs teacher and athletics coach when I was at Tarpon Springs High School. Being a special needs teacher shows a lot about his character and who he is as a person. I am very grateful for his support.
Merrill Kramer (Backer) Merrill is a talented potter and a faculty member of the Dunedin Fine Art Center. She always made time for me when I needed someone to talk to and she is a great support and person to have in my corner.
Michael Matteo (Playwright Consultant) Many years ago I walked into Michael's costume shop in New Port Richey, Florida and we became instant friends. It was like we were soul mates. Over the years Michael shared not only a friendship with me but he became a mentor and guide. He is has a great sense of humor, he is selfless with his time and he is a fantastic dad. Michael is also an accomplished author, screenwriter and playwright and has offered his expertise with the play and project.
Michelle Smith-Sund (Backer) Michelle has a God given, glorious gift of a soprano voice. I met her when she sang Brunhilda in a New Century Opera production of The Walkure. Not only is she exceptionally talented but she is a joy to work with and know. I'm happy to have her support.
Mom and Dad (Supporters) My parents need a mention since they are the VERY beginning of the story. My mother, Milagros, has a beautiful voice which she gave to me at birth. My father, Michael, taught me to dream and how to follow them. They are the building blocks for who I am and I love them dearly.
Nik Sharp (Backer) Nik is a singer/songwriter/producer/business owner and someone I admire very much. He is one of the most hardworking people I know and an inspiration to me. We went to Lakeside Christian School and Tarpon High school together and he has always been a dear friend and support.
Patrick Davidson/Nitesol Inc (Backer) Patrick Davidson has been my best friend since we were about 13 years old. He knows me better than anyone and is the only one who can immediately get me out of a major doldrum. He is one of my biggest supporters and fans and the one I can always count on.
Paul Marsh (Backer) I met Paul or P-Diddy as his friends call him, through Tony Peacock and the gang. I'm so happy to have him as a backer.
Paul Oldack (Recording Engineer/Consultant) I sang for Paul once many years ago when I wanted to start recording music in my mid twenties. We never started on that project but we met again before I came to Germany and collaborated on a demo which I have been able to use for this project. He is a lovely person and very generous with his talents. Paul plays classical guitar and has a great ear for music which makes him a wiz at the sound board. He has offered to help and consult me with this project when it comes time to record the CD and voiceovers for the play.
Peter Sontag (Backer) Peter is a brilliant business man who I met a few years ago after a Sunstate Opera concert in which I sang an excerpt from La Traviata, his favorite opera. Peter's generosity and support to me, the arts and this project are above and beyond. He is a great ally and wonderful friend.
Rachel Yotter (Backer) I was introduced to Rachel before I even got to Germany through our mutual friend Kelsey Davis. Rachel is a kind and good soul who never forgets a birthday and always knows how to make people feel special. She was such a tremendous help to me during my transition into my new life in Europe and is someone I know I can count on to listen without judgment. She really made a difference.
Robin Snyder (Backer) I noticed Robin when I sat in a rehearsal for a New Century Opera production of "Orpheus and Eurydice." Her voice is only to be superseded by who she is a person, she is just beautiful.
Rogério Martins (Costume Designer) Rogerio is a native of Brazil and a fan of Bidu Sayao. The first time I met him was when he bounced up to my desk at the Dunedin Fine Art Center with his portfolio of wearable art for the 2nd Wearable Art Fashion Show. I was blown away by what I saw. His work is otherworldly and brilliant. I am honored to have him on my team to help me create the costumes for the play.
Russ Pinkerton (Backer) Russ is an elementary school friend who attended Lakeside Christian School with me. We lost touch but found each other again a couple of years ago. He is a wonderful teacher, good friend and knows just what to say if I need a word of encouragement. Russ also shares my passion for the theatrical arts.
Silke Pfohl (Backer) After exchanging emails for almost 9 months, I finally met Silke in Jena, Germany. I knew Silke through our mutual friend, Kelsey Davis. She has a beautiful daughter named Emily and she collects postcards, which she will get from me soon.
Stacie Little (Backer) Stacie is a faculty member at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. I met Stacie when she taught children's classes and summer camp. Kids love her classes and she always put a smile on my face.
Steve McClure (Backer) I met Steve when I worked at Sweet Tomatoes. I admire and respect Steve very much. He is great support and special friend to me.
Steven Stagmer (Backer) Steve is the owner of Jollimon's in Downtwon Dunedin. I met him when doing a fundraiser for the Dunedin Fine Art Center. Steve is always eager to help the community and the arts and I'm happy to have him be part of this project.
Susan Geier (Photographer) I always go to Susan to get photos taken. She has a great eye and captures the most amazing things on film. You can see most of her work on my site. She took the photo I used for the project image.
The Harton Family (Backer) Nana, Susan, Lauren, Theo and Bill Harton are a family near and dear to my heart. I went to Tarpon High School with Lauren and Susan and call Theo and Bill, mom and dad. You know you are close to a family when that happens. Nana passed away this year but I know she will hear the opera arias I sing in this play and be very happy. They are great supporters.
Toni Hutfilz (Backer) Toni is wonderful artist and a Dunedin Fine Art Center Faculty member who gives her students so much of herself. She also teaches art to special needs students and the elderly which shows what a generous, patient and loving heart she has. She even gave my dad art lessons when he was in the nursing home. I'm very grateful for her.
Tony Peacock and Family (Backers) Tony, his wife Sarah and their daughter Kayla have been in my life for over 10 years in some way or another. They always take time for me if I need them and I never hesitate to call when I need an encouraging word or just an ear to bend. They are a huge part of my life.
Veronica Klos (Backer) I met Veronica when she began to study with my voice teacher Mario Laurenti. I have had the pleasure of performing in many operas and concerts with her during my time with the Sunstate Opera. She is a spiritual, sensitive and loving woman who always seeks the good in things. She has two great and incredibly talented kids and she is a fantastic mom.
Wayne S. Williams (Backer) Wayne is a Dunedin Fine Art Center faculty member and a man of words. His poetry is deep and meaningful and he always makes time to share his heartfelt insight with me.
Behind the Story
Adam I Orenstein
Catherine & Ava Bergmann
Clara A. Yarian
Enkyrosaum Maida Santa Cruz
Esther Talledo Snook
Fawzi M Bayyat
George Ann Bissett
Jane Russell Geddings
Ken & Kris Hannon
Luis E. Ramos
Mom & Dad - Milagros and Michael Coulmas
Patrick Davidson (Nitesol)
The Harton Family
Tony Peacock and Family
Wayne S. Williams
PLEDGED OF $5000 GOAL
SECONDS TO GO
This project successfully raised its funding goal.