Coney Island performers join singers at the Metropolitan Opera

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Thursday, April 12, 2018
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Sandy Kenyon reports on the integration of circus performers and opera.

LINCOLN CENTER, New York (WABC) -- Two worlds are colliding onstage at the Metropolitan Opera House, and the opera world may never be the same.

"This is the most bizarre circumstance ever," said Coney Island-based snake charmer Zoe Ziegfeld. "I never imagined being on the Met stage ever."

Ziegfeld and other carnival performers may not seem to have much in common with opera stars, but they all make it work to tell the story of Mozart's "Costi Fan Tutte."

"I think the beauty of it is finding these sort of dissimilar entities all coming together into a similar game," contortionist Jonathan Nosan said.

Backstage at "The Met," the performers get ready to take center stage.

"Basically, it was presented to us that we were really part of the show," said contortionist Anna Venizelos, after limbering up with Nosan. "We were not just, kind of, you know, extras. We were there to support the singers."

Ray Valenz, who swallows swords, never expected to utilize his very particular talent on the big stage. Neither did Leo Mendez, who is known as "The Human Gumby" for his ability to dislocate his shoulder and pretzel-ize his limbs.

"The first time I've been to the Met was for my audition day," Mendez said.

The performances can definitely be considered collaborative.

"We're kinda odd and took our chance at being who we had to be in life, and opera singers are much like us in that way," strongman Titano Oddfellow said. "We instantly clicked and meshed perfectly."

Oddfellow says this was like two families coming together for a "perfect fit."

The virtuosos of Coney Island and the Upper West Side will be back on stage Friday and Monday at the Metropolitan Opera House, then they go their separate ways, all the better for having been together.

You can find out more about the show here.


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