When I sit down with Maria D’Amato in the sunny courtyard at the Sarasota Opera House, I feel as though I already know her. Maria’s name has come up repeatedly in previous interviews and people speak of her with great affection. It’s easy to see why Maria is such a popular figure in opera circles---she is an attractive, effusive, intelligent woman with a passion for life, art and food that stems, in part, from her Italian heritage.
Dining Diva: Where are you from?
Maria D'Amato: Shirley, N. Y.---which is in Long Island---and I still live there.
DD: What is your favorite food from home?
MD: I love le Parmigiana and fried calamari.
DD: How many times have you performed in Sarasota?
MD: Every year since 2008. Last year I played Mimi in La Bohème, which is my favorite opera.
DD: What are some of your favorite places to eat in Sarasota?
DD: What else do you enjoy about performing here?
MD: I like to walk the bridge and listen to Adele or some '80s music or whatever musical mood I am in. Walking the Ringling Bridge is a great perk to being in Sarasota.
DD: Where would you like to travel that you have not already been?
MD: I’ve never been to Italy! I really would love to go. I went to the Netherlands recently to visit my boyfriend (Dimitrie Lazich, who is performing in three different operas at the Sarasota Opera House this season.) It was so beautiful being on the train; looking out the window at the scenery made me cry.
DD: Do you like to cook?
MD: I love to cook with garlic---I am Italian---and I make a very tasty eggplant Parmigiana.
DD: What would you like to do if you weren’t an opera singer?
MD: I would like to teach young children or be a librarian.
Maria is performing as Desdemona in Otello, and I can’t wait to see what she does with the tragic part of the woman who is used as a pawn by her husband’s closest advisor and ends up paying the ultimate price. We are lucky to have artists of Maria’s caliber coming to Sarasota every year, and I feel proud that we have a world-class venue that attracts them.