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the Sayville Young People's Opera Workshop

Steven Hailey
Donna Hailey
Current Workshop: TBA
Past Summer Programs



1.         Who We Are –

The Sayville Young People's Opera Workshop (SYPOW) was organized in the summer of 1996 when voice teacher Donna Hailey said to drama teacher Steven Hailey, "We need somewhere to introduce opera and operetta to young people." That summer SYPOW, assisted by pianist extraordinaire Stephen Abrams, produced Gian Carlo Menotti's short opera The Telephone and his short two act opera The Medium featuring area high school students in the Sayville High School Little Theatre. The following summer open auditions were introduced as we prepared The "Little" Magic Flute, which was an adaptation of W. A. Mozart's Die Zauberflote. In the summer of 1998 we opened auditions to middle school children, as well, as we prepared Samuel Barber's short opera A Hand of Bridge and Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Trial by Jury which was performed in the Sayville Middle School.


Since then we have produced former Sayville resident Rick Besoyan's operetta Little Mary Sunshine, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Mikado and again Trial by Jury also at the Sayville Middle School. In the summer of 2003 we did four performances at the “Common Ground” gazebo in Sayville’s Rotary Park of an adapted version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and excerpts from Luc Plamondon and Richard Cocciante’s new dramatic opera Notre Dame de Paris in August and an encore performance in Sayville High School’s Little Theatre in September. The following summer we did three performances in the Sayville Middle School and one at the “Common Ground” of Jesus Christ Superstar and followed the same schedule the summer after with our workshop presentation of The Who’s Tommy (with a full orchestra for the first time!). 


In the summer of 2006, we returned to classical opera with a full production of Mozart's Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), again with a full orchestra, and in the summer of 2007 we presented the classic early 20th century operetta The New Moon by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II.  In 2008 we took a two-pronged approach to the workshop featuring an abridged version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel followed by a Salute to Stephen Sondheim. In 2009 we featured three dissimilar works:  Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury, Kurt Weill's Down in the Valley, and an abridged version of Gian Carlo Menotti's The Medium. In 2010 we presented Aaron Copland's first opera The Second Hurricane, P.D.Q. Bach's pseudo-opera Oedipus Tex, and excerpts from Bizet's real opera  Carmen. The summer of 2011 saw abridged versions of Pietro Mascagni's one-act opera  Cavalleria Rusticana and, again, Plamondon and Cocciante's Notre Dame de Paris. 


However, in the summer of 2012 we decided to take a different approach.  Instead of trying to make our company members fit the music we had selected, we decided to select music that would fit our members.  This resulted in a multi-media presentation entitled A Night at the Operas which featured classical European opera pieces, English operetta, English and American rock opera and dramatic musical theatre pieces, as well.  We continued that approach the following summer  with Opera and Beyond!, the following summer with Music for a Summer Night, last summer with Not Just Opera and will continue to do so this summer, as well.

Mrs. Hailey has a degree in vocal performance and has taught voice in both private and public school and is a member of the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME). Now she teaches mainly privately out of her studio as well as two to three afternoons a week at Family Melody in Patchogue. She also sings professionally and has belonged to various regional choral and opera societies including
Opera on the Sound, the Long Island Repertory Opera Company, the Long Island Philharmonic Chorusthe BAFFA Chorale, the New York Choral Society, Opera Et Al, and the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association. Additionally, she has performed with  various regional theatre companies, as well.

Mr. Hailey has a Master of Arts degree in Speech Communication and Theatre Arts and has been Dramatics Director for Sayville High School since 1978 where he directs the drama program and co-directs the spring musical. He has also taught drama in the Sayville Elementary Summer School and currently teaches public speaking, debate, and theatre arts at the Long Island University Center for Gifted Youth on the campus of C.W. Post. He has performed and directed semi-professionally and regionally as well as locally.


SYPOW is a non-profit/zero budget operation and neither of the directors nor any other member of the “staff” receives a salary.  Production costs, including royalties, are covered by the production fee and voluntary donations.

2.         Why We Are –

Young people are talented. These young people are capable of amazing things when they are given the chance. Being the parents of three boys ourselves, we are convinced that the more opportunities young people are given to perform, the more often they will amaze those around them, as well as themselves, with not only the quality of their dedication but also the quality of their talent. That is why we originated the opera workshop and why with
Trial by Jury we began the policy of multiple casting where we can.


          We are not looking to create "stars"; we want every deserving youngster to get as big a chance as possible to experience performing on stage.

3.         What We Expect –

We know it’s summer and we want this to be not only an educational experience but an enjoyable experience, as well. Consequently, we try to keep our summer workshops as realistic as possible considering that people have families and summer obligations. We hope that everyone can make all of the full cast rehearsals, but when one cannot we are as understanding as we can possibly be. Communication is extremely important so, if something comes up at the last minute that you must miss a rehearsal, either email us at at or call us at (631) 589-8534.


However, by the time we get to final rehearsals, if any company member does not know his or her music and/or lines and/or staging, there is no way that person can expect to be allowed on the stage.

Also, please note that in order to cover production expenses, we do ask that each participant pay a nominal production and materials fee of $120.00 (which includes an accompanist fee of $20.00) with a sibling discounted fee of $60.00. 



4.         What Happens at Auditions –


Your “audition” will not be for a specific role or a specific piece.  Instead, you will be auditioning for inclusion in the Company.  Consequently, please bring a song that shows off both the quality of your voice and your level of training.  When rehearsals begin, we will spend the first two weeks teaching everything to everyone.  After that, additional auditions will be held for specific pieces and roles. 


One caveat, however:  All members of the company are expected to participate in all chorus numbers.

Sayville Young People's Opera Workshop Wows Audience (Sayville

Remarkable company performs excerpts from three operettas.

Questions or comments? Get in touch with us at: