Arresting Performance

Opera and crime fighting are more alike than you'd think. Both brim with the stuff of life: drama, angst, raw humanity, intense emotions, murder and mayhem. You name it, they've both got it. Just ask renowned tenor and former Miami-Dade police officer Jorge Antonio Pita, who's lived in both worlds and handled both with equal aplomb, decorations and kudos. He started out as a young vocal wunderkind in the '80s, only to leave singing behind for the police force.

Why did Pita leave a glamorous life to patrol the streets of Miami? It was just something he had to do. The Cuban-born tenor, who switched gears at a very young age after being discovered and mentored by Placido Domingo, wanted to put the military-school training of his youth to good use and do something to help other people. Besides, he jokes, his tour of police work helped condition him for his tour as a sought-after tenor: "As a cop, I was involved in so many hairy situations that now I don't get so nervous. Plus, I'm very good when I have to interpret fights on stage."

Though he's now dropped his beat and returned to the high-strung world of opera, Pita still finds ways to come to the rescue: When Joseph Calleja dropped out of Opera Colorado's season-opening production of Donizetti's wacky Scottish melodrama Lucia di Lammermoor at the last minute, Opera Cop stepped in. On opening night this Saturday at the Buell Theatre, it will be Pita who sings the role of the clan leader and love interest, Edgardo -- a role he's also set to perform next fall for the New York City Opera. Here comes the cavalry.

A pure singer known for his fluid tenor technique, Pita is perfectly suited for the bel canto-style opera, though he hasn't performed it in over ten years. "I hadn't even opened the book since 1989," he says. "But now, I'm back on the horse, so to speak." And he's thrilled to be there.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd