EAST MANATEE -- A summer music series at Rosedale Golf and Country Club hits a high note June 11 with a performance of operatic arias and popular music by the husband-wife duo of mezzo-soprano Carol Sparrow and tenor Randolph Locke.
Opera has taken Sparrow and Locke around the world since they launched their operatic careers at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in the late 1970s but home for them has been the Palm-Aire area since 1989.
Performances, open to the public, are set for June, July and August.
The theme of the June 11 concert is "Cities We Love," and will pay tribute to New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities.
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On July 16, the duo will feature international students from the Oasis Young Artist Program singing operetta and Broadway-themed songs.
The series wraps up Aug. 20 with a performance of hits from the 1940s through the 1980s.
Rosedale club manager Chuck Nehls, an opera lover, was key to bringing opera music to the community.
Because of his work schedule, Nehls was unable to attend performances and decided to bring opera to Rosedale. He started six years ago by bringing the Sarasota Opera, and later the Opera Tampa, to Rosedale during the winter season.
"A couple of years ago, I ran into Carol Sparrow and asked if she could do something in Rosedale during the summer," Nehls said.
That marked the start of Rosedale summer music series, presenting the easy, friendly personalities of Sparrow and Locke, and their ability to bring serious talent to the stage.
Both love popular music. Sparrow said some of her early favorites were Paul
Revere & the Raiders and The Monkees.
"Then I was introduced to classical and went: 'Wow, that's interesting.'" Sparrow said.
They have played a variety of venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to Cunard cruise lines.
"We have probably done a year at sea on Cunard cruise ships," Sparrow said.
They teach at State College of Florida: Sparrow at Lakewood Ranch and Locke at the Bradenton campus.
They also teach at Sarasota Voice Academy and the OASIS Young Artist Program, which they founded.
Neither are from areas traditionally associated with opera. Locke grew up near Brownsville, Texas, while Sparrow is from North Carolina.
"We did an audition in New York for the Sarasota Opera, came here in 1989, and fell in love with the place," Locke said.
The summer series programs begin at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and dinner, followed by a show at 8 p.m. Cost is $38.30 plus gratuity. For reservations, call 941-753-6200.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.