It may seem like an unlikely market to tap into, but Belle Voci is determined to take over the North Fork with their opera music. And so far it seems to be working.
Kathryn Zukowski and Dana Kowalsick are the vocalists and creators of Belle Voci, a local group who performs opera arias and classical music at wineries and restaurants on the North and South Forks of Long Island.
Zukowski and Kowalsick met in 2005 while working at Touch of Venice, an Italian restaurant in Cutchogue. The two discovered they were both going to graduate school for singing, and when customers would ask them to sing, the self proclaimed “opera babes” realized their voices harmonized perfectly—Belle Voci was born.
“We became instant friends,” Zukowski said. “Having that commonality of studying opera, what were the chances?”
The duo made the rounds on the North Fork and began to develop a following. Their first event was at Southold’s Sparkling Pointe. Belle Voci was booked to provide “background music” for a holiday art event, but quickly stole the show.
“Almost everyone who showed up was there to support us,” Zukowski said. “It turned into a sort of concert.”
After becoming popular among the North Fork wineries, Sal Diliberto, owner of Diliberto Winery and self-proclaimed opera buff, suggested that Belle Voci perform in the winery’s summer concert series “Opera In The Vines.”
“Opera In The Vines” is a summer opera and classical music concert series, which runs July through August, and is the product of a collaboration of the Long Island Opera Company and Diliberto Winery.
“Sal felt we were good enough and asked us to participate,” Zukowski said. This Saturday, August 31 at 7:30pm, will be Belle Voci’s second performance in the series.
The cost of the event is $35 in advance and $40 at the door. It is held after hours, so the tasting room is closed, but pre-show wine and homemade pizza are available for purchase.
Performing as a part of Opera In The Vines is one of their larger concerts, but Belle Voci also sing at Touch of Venice as well as catered events at Castello di Borghese Vineyards.
“With the dinners, we pair the food and where it’s from to correlate with an opera song from that region of Italy,” Zukowski said. “Most people don’t know what the songs are about, so we try to give some background and get the audience involved as much as possible.”
Belle Voci does a few performances a month at weddings and wineries, and are available for dinner parties, house parties, weddings and the like, and recently sang for Congressman Steve Israel at Castello di Borghese.
The duo is currently recording an album, and expects to be finished by the end of the year. Fans can go to their SoundCloud account to listen to clips of their most recently recorded music.
Belle Voci has also just recently launched their own Facebook artist page. We’ve definitely found our niche,” Zukowski said, “now we’re jut trying to be more professional and establish an online presence.”
Zukowski, who hails from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is a classically trained vocalist with a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance and a Master’s Degree in Arts Marketing/Management from Long Island University, C.W. Post. She has performed throughout Europe with the LIU Chamber Singers, as well as Carnegie Hall and was a member of Brooklyn’s Opera Oggi, an independent opera company. When she isn’t singing, Zukowski worked as an account manager for a music marketing firm in Tribeca, and is in the process of setting up her own firm.
Kowalsick, a Cutchogue native, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Muhlenberg College and a Master of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance from the Aaron Copeland School of Music at CUNY Queens College. In addition to singing, Kowalsick is the tasting room manager at MEET located in The Square in Greenport.