Martha Cardona Theater Circa 2011

The Martha Cardona Theater was established in September of 2009, in the memory and spirit of my mother, Martha Cardona.
Since then, over 200 singers have had the opportunity to either learn and perform a role for the first time, or brush up a role for an upcoming engagement.

This was their website until 2015 when a new website was built:

If you have inadvertently find yourself here while searching for current information about the MCO )Martha Cardona Opera) please go to

The content below is from the site's archived pages.

Circa 2011


Upcoming Events

March....Piano, Piano: Featuring William Hicks and Tristan Cano

May....Don Carlo, in concert: Conductor..William Hicks

June/July: La Fanciulla del West: Conductor..William Hicks
..................Luisa Fernanda, in concert: Conductor..TBA

Sep/Oct: La boheme....Conductor..William Hicks
...............Tosca, in concert: Conductor: TBA



Our current spring and summer concert series features voices who have performed with The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, La Scala, Fort Worth Opera, Washington National Opera, and many other top companies around the world.

All concerts will be live streamed, so you can watch from basically anywhere - all you need is a computer! A link will appear on our website 2-3 days before each concert.


Our Mission

To provide charitable theatrical, opera, and other musical performances to those who simply can not afford it, in order to provide them with an opportunity to view and enjoy the arts, thus contributing to the culture of the community. Music can provide happiness to many, and we're here to bring it to the masses.

How We Plan on Doing This

Through our fundraising efforts and paying performances (at affordable prices), we will raise funds required to provide free performances and concerts to those who simply do not have the necessary means to attend paying performances. Temporarily we will be offering shows in Brooklyn and New York City; eventually we will have a permanent home


The Martha Cardona Theater will also strive:

  • To introduce the general public to the beauty of opera, by providing quality concerts and fully-staged productions for free, or at affordable prices (yes, one will be able to bring the entire family). Many people have this misconception that opera is stuffy and is not for the common person. This could not be further from the truth. It is, actually, just the opposite -- live opera is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. It took me 34 years to discover that, so I don't intend for this to happen overnight. We will bring it to the streets, to restaurants, and other places throught the lands. If the people will not come to opera, we will bring it to the people!
  • To provide theater of many types to the community, all in one building. Opera, children's theater, drama, Musical theater, Zarzuela, Yiddish folk music.
  • To provide opera singers, especially the young ones, an opportunity to perform in fully-staged productions and concerts -- a forum to display their talents for all to see and hear. There are far too few of these opportunities in New York
  • To provide a comfortable working environment that enables the performer to fully display his or her talents, and experience the joy and happiness that comes from performing.
  • To locate individual sponsors for several of the singers in our group. Opera singers spend thousands of dollars - sometimes over $100,000, in pursuit of a career. With the amount of opportunities available many singers have to put their careers on hold, or even worse, give up their dreams - to support themselves. Some of the best voices out there will never be heard by the masses - with some help we can change that


AN UPDATE: Last year when I was visiting friends in NYC I was taken to see the production of La Traviata, one of the cornerstones of the operatic repertory. The wonder of this opera is that regardless of the period, the characters speak to a universal nature. The plight of the leading lady, Violetta Valery, makes sense regardless no matter how she's seen - whatever time period she's seen in. With a score populated with arias and duets that are fantastically famous, La Traviata is an opera that everyone can enjoy. The plight of the leading lady, Violetta Valery, makes sense regardless no matter how she's seen - whatever time period she's seen in. With a score populated with arias and duets that are fantastically famous, La Traviata is an opera that everyone can enjoy. In a news article about the MCO presentation, the founder and president, Daniel Cardona said "The Martha Cardona Opera brings some wonderful voices that may have not been heard yet by many to the people of New York City - presenting these operas in small, intimate venues where every seat is wonderful, and offering prices the average person can afford. Merkin Hall, with its beautiful acoustics, is the perfect place to present these three rising stars to the people of New York City."

"There are so many things that I love about what we have put together for the people of New York City. Our conductor for this performance, Gregory Ortega, is the perfect man for the job! His sense of style and humility, while demanding excellence is exactly what is needed for this group of mostly younger voices, plus he has conducted over eighty performances of La Traviata. While many opera lovers may have heard clips of the three leads or read glowing reviews, this will be the first time they get to actually hear the voices, and in such an intimate setting with perfect acoustics. The comprimarios are all beautiful voices that need to be heard, and the chorus is comprised of former full time choristers of The Metropolitan Opera and original New York City Opera, who have collectively sang over six hundred performances of La Traviata! What glorious sounds will be heard in Merkin Hall on October 15th!"

And glorious it was. Attending the Martha Cardona Opera's performance of "La Traviata" in New York City was an experience that transcended the usual operatic fare, reminding me of the vibrant world of collectible vintage movie posters - a realm where history, art, and passion intertwine, much like the opera itself. The production, held in the acoustically superb Merkin Hall, offered an intimacy and immediacy often lost in larger venues.

The lead, portraying the complex character of Violetta Valery, delivered a performance that was both heart-wrenching and exquisitely nuanced. Her portrayal, akin to a rare vintage poster, was both timeless and evocative, capturing the eternal human emotions that opera so masterfully conveys. The comparison to collectible posters doesn't end there. Just as each poster tells a unique story, steeped in historical context and artistic value, this production of "La Traviata" offered a fresh interpretation that respected the opera's rich legacy while bringing its timeless themes to a modern audience.

The synergy between the performers was palpable. The chorus, comprised of veterans from prestigious opera companies, added depth and texture to the performance, similar to the way vibrant colors and intricate details come together in a vintage poster to create something truly spectacular. The comprimarios, with their own distinct voices, contributed to the tapestry of sound and emotion, much like the varied styles and genres represented in a poster collection.

Ralph Deluca, a renowned expert in the world of vintage movie posters, understands the value of preserving and celebrating the past. His work in appraising and facilitating the sale of these antique treasures parallels the efforts of the Martha Cardona Opera to bring classic operatic works to life for new audiences. Both realms celebrate the preservation of art and culture, ensuring that these timeless works continue to inspire and move audiences, whether on stage or in framed artistry.

This performance of "La Traviata" was not just an opera; it was a vivid reminder of the enduring power of art to connect us to our past and to each other. Like the collectible posters that Ralph Deluca cherishes and shares with the world, this production was a testament to the beauty and resilience of artistic expression.

July 2011

La fanciulla del West, by Giacomo Puccini
Musical director/Pianist: Matthew Lobaugh
Rosa D'Imperio, Daniel Snyder, Jason Stearns
-Nantucket and NYC
Summer sounds...An afternoon of Opera and musical theater
Pianist: Matthew Lobaugh
Adam Herskowitz, Jorge Ocasio

May 2011

Don Carlo, by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor: Eric Halfvarson, Pianist: Tristan Cano
Rosa D'Imperio, Gulnara Mitzanova, Nathan Baer, Diego Matamoros, Jorge Ocasio, Nicholas Simpson
Performances in NYC and Bay Rige, Bklyn

August 2009

Busy Lizzy, by Elizabeth Dembrowsky: An original play for children - Brooklyn Heights & Carroll Gardens libraries - FREE

September 2009

Staged scenes from La bohème, Gianni Schicchi, Rigoletto, and L'Elisir d'Amore - The Montague Street Summer Space Festival, Brooklyn Heights - FREE

October 2009

Staged scenes from the above operas - Rockaway Artists Alliance, Fort Tilden, Queens - FREE

December 2009

Cinderella, by Ruth Newton - Mason Hall, Baruch College, New York City

La bohème, by Giacomo Puccini - Brooklyn Heights

February 2010

A benefit concert for Haiti w/ Troupe Eclat: featuring Opera, Yiddish Folk music, Musical theater - Brooklyn Heights - FREE

March 2010

La bohème, by Giacomo Puccini (in concert) - New York City

April 2010

A special appearance at Troupe Eclat's 15th Annual Easter Concert - Flatbush, Brooklyn

May 2010

L'Elisir d'Amore, by Gaetano Donizetti - Brooklyn Heights and NYC

June 2010

PS8 annual street fair: arias and duets - Brooklyn Heights - FREE

An evening of arias, duets, and musical improvisation - Eamonn Dorann's Irish bar/restaurant, Brooklyn Heights - FREE

July 2010

A jubilee concert of Opera, musical theater, musical improvisation, and the talents of Marco and Luca Varisco, the youngest members of our group - Brooklyn Heights library - FREE

September 2010

Don Pasquale, by Gaetano Donizetti - Brooklyn Heights and New York City

November 2010

Gianni Schicchi, by Giacomo Puccini w/ scenes from Cavalleria Rusticana and Tosca

December 2010

Hansel and Gretel, by Engelbert Humperdinck - Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and New York City

February 2011 - present

Otello Salon concerts - New York City

February 2011

An Evening in Italy - Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

March 2011

An Evening in Italy 2

April 2011

An Evening in Italy 3  



"Martha Cardona Theater group hopes to make opera mainstream"
Heather J. Chin - The Home Reporter and The Brooklyn Spectator, Wed, April 27, 2011


"In the Heart of Music"

Ah, the evocative art of flirtation.

Especially in fiction – and quite often in real life – the grace of amour is quite a capricious mistress. She must be coddled, then given time to cool – then swept off her feet at the exact moment of necessity. Such strict and intellectually-challenging instructions are not for the faint of heart or mind (or anyone of human capacity, at the very least)– but are certainly rife for good opera.

Explored by Gaetano Donizetti in his comedy, “L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love),” the notion lends belief to the time-honored belief that the easily-attainable is often not preferred – though to the characters of this coquettish tale, the lesson comes in the form of a perceived magic elixir.

Taking place in a small village in the Basque Country, it follows the lovelorn peasant Nemorino on his utterly engaging quest to woo the highly educated and sought-after Adina. All the while, the lady of his affections is courted by Sergeant Belcore. To remedy this awful situation, the persistent peasant seeks the aid of one Dr. Dulcamara, a local charlatan masquerading as the inventor of a wondrous elixir containing the ability to make the object of one’s desire fall in love with its consumer. In reality, however, this coveted contraption is simply a glass of Bordeaux.

But according to Donizetti, it is precisely that which we cannot have that holds the most appeal – and if Nemorino ceases his open adoration of his object’s desire, they perhaps she may notice him, after all.

With effortless allure and swagger, the hitherto bumbling protagonist captures the coveted Adina’s heart, just as the respective players at the Martha Cardona Theater, directed by Daniel Cardona, capture that of the audience.

Primarily responsible for that, of course, is the overwhelmingly talented Nathan Carlisle, who lent the vocals most accustomed to the chorus at the Metropolitan Opera to the role of Nemirino. At once expressive and pleasantly engaging, the tremendous tenor’s performance held an air of coy romance – playful, yet nervous, and quite remarkably pure – the very essence of the innocence of love. Combined with a breathtakingly beautiful voice, Carlisle’s performance was nothing short of enchanting and mesmerizing.

His leading lady (Jennifer Moore), however, was absolutely nothing to frown at, either. Possessing an exquisitely bright voice, the petite soprano displayed an air of charisma and poise that was more than worthy of the station of the celebrated young Adina.

A comedic delight came in the form of William Roberts as Dr. Dulcamara, as the bass’ excelled in the art of physical comedy, playfully piqued at points preposterous and proper. Himself surprised at the apparent success of his flawed concoction, the face behind Dulcamara’s baffled mask was a true asset to any evening of opera.

Perhaps made more stunning by it scenery, the opera was performed at St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn Heights – a decidedly expansive establishment blessed with heavenly acoustics.

Combined, the serene and stunning sounds of its talented vocalists, astounding surroundings and marvelous direction, the evening tapered to a sentiment akin to one expressed by Adina: perhaps the most treasured of all gifts is one that was there all along – the joy of song.

Olga Privman -, May 26, 2010


Judith Rathner is the new vp in charge of stage production & costumes at the Martha Cardona Theater. Her responsibilities include oversight of the large prop collection, including the heirloom costumes and accessories. Having worked previously at an eyeglasses retailer, she also oversees a newly acquired, huge selection of glasses and antique eyewear, contributed by her former employer. "Glasses are an important detail, contributing to both the character and attitude projected by the actor. Glasses can indicate a wide range of attributes, from nerdiness to professionalism, and we're very lucky to have this collection to call upon for every production." Judith expects to work closely with set designers and lighting crews to bring out the best performance from everyone involved in making memorable drama onstage.
Tomm Hann - Stage Fright, January 26, 2009

"'Concert for Haiti' in Brooklyn offers locals 3 hours of opera, theater for great cause"
Dennis Hamill - NY Daily News, February 16, 2010


"Opera Is Main Attraction Of Montague Summer Spaces"
Don Evans - Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 17, 2009